Defining Moments in Leadership—Dan Price’s Minimum Wage Announcement

By now you have probably seen some of the media coverage that followed my son Dan Price’s decision to realign the compensation practices at his company, Gravity Payments, and the unexpected response it has received around the world.  It has been impossible to track all of the media outlets that have broadcast or published his story this past week.

There certainly has been plenty of reaction to the announcement, both positive and negative. Some people think it’s wonderful. They think he’s working to narrow the gap between executive pay and employee pay. Others are extremely critical because they think he’s offering welfare. And maybe some even feel challenged to do the same at their companies. 

Dan and I talked a few times leading up to his decision.  Some the questions we discussed were:  What where his primary motives?  How did this decision align with the core values of his company?  How would other stakeholders be helped or hurt?  What were the implications for the long-term success of his company?  

His answers convinced me that he had invested a considerable amount of time and energy before deciding what to do. I could hear the conviction and passion in his conclusions that convinced me this was no publicity stunt.  Clearly, this decision has provided him the opportunity to grow and express his own authenticity as a leader, both at Gravity Payments and by contributing to a broader discussion about compensation practices in America.

I’m grateful that Dan is a deep thinker who asks for feedback. He asks to be challenged. And I’m also grateful that when he decides to do something, he doesn’t very often fail. Dan wants his business to count for something both for his customers and for those who serve his customers. He took his million-dollar salary and reduced it to $70,000 as a way of putting his money where his mouth is—that’s personal accountability.

Dan’s decision and the reasons behind it will provide interesting fodder for future discussions about philosophies of compensation, the role of corporate leaders as societal influencers, and what Alexis de Tocqueville described back in the 1800s as America’s preoccupation with making money.

As Randy Lisk and I wrote in, “The Complete Leader: Everything You Need to Become a High Performing Leader,” it takes courage, humility and defining moments to help each of us discover how we can have a unique impact through our positions, expertise and character.  I admire and support Dan’s commitment to being an authentic leader who thinks clearly, gets things done, and takes responsibility for the well being of his team.