Regarding CEOs who might quit their posts if their pay was capped, management expert Tom Peters asked, “Who cares?” He went on to say, ”…if all the top executives of the Fortune 500 companies were exiled to Elba, ‘performance of their companies would not on average deteriorate.’”
So – without getting into the ‘who cares’ and ‘if all’ of it – what about the money? Is that the ONLY thing that most CEOs care about?
In a late 2004 study of two hundred and eight Fortune 1000 CEOs, a mere 7% indicated that money was their top motivating factor. A near majority – 43% – said they were largely motivated by fear (most likely of losing their jobs!) and another 22% indicated that their top motivator was power.
Five critical years have passed since NY-based Jericho Communications revealed this study, so we might want to ask – could things have changed that much? For all the recent and very bad press, it’s a fair question.
Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but in the nearly fifteen years I’ve been Coaching CEOs (among others), I have not encountered one such executive who didn’t care more about the culture, well-being, intellect and overall profitability of their organizations than about their own income.
Does that mean there isn’t a class of CEOs who thinks only of their own wealth? Absoutely not.
And we don’t even have to rely on the fictional Gordon Gekko to prove the point. There’s the now-deceased Ken Lay followed by John Thain, Patrick Soon-Shiong, Richard Baker and so many others who are pocketing millions – even billions – while workers are being laid off.
But, there’s also a long list of admirable CEOs that includes people like Genentech’s Art Levinson, Eric E. Schmidt of Google, and Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen.
Bottom line? It’s not always about the CEO’s personal bottom line and it’s unfair to negatively brand the whole category.