News of the AIG bonuses and other financial institution bonuses and perks have received populist angst. While companies that received bailout money continue to pay out extravagant bonuses and parties, this one did the opposite of that, in this interview a man named Leonard Abess, sold his bank for $60 million dollars and rather than lining his own pockets, he shared it with his employees. Why would he do that?
He believed that people are the center and the core of any business. He felt his employees contribute to much of his banks’ success and felt that they acted and worked like owners, and he wanted to acknowledge that. In his annual report, he acknowledged and thanked his employees first before talking about the various metrics as so many companies are apt to do.
With regards to laying people off:
“….I tell young CEOs, that before you cut anybody’s compensation, before you fire anybody for economic reasons, you deal with yourself. Your perks go, your bonus goes, your salary goes. I am very surprised when I see huge amounts of money that go to the people at the top [even] as there are massive layoffs, especially when they accept government money.”
One of the greatest traits that any leader has, according to Mr. Abess, is the ability to listen. Mr. Abess knows his employees names’, spouses names’ and even their parents and children. He added that leaders lead by example such as: motivate people, being human and being real and talking to people. They should also have a clear moral compass and clear ethics and be examples in their communities.
It is too bad in the news, we hear too much about the greedy and morally corrupt leaders and not the ones that influence and inspire positive change like Mr. Abess. He truly exemplifies a positive force in leadership.