More than money: why business leaders like George Scorsis not motivated just by salary

All across North America, coronavirus has hit companies hard and fast.  In the workforce, people across virtually every industry have lost their jobs or have been furloughed, and some corporations are taking excessive measures to mitigate the economic consequences of the outbreak.

Airlines, hotels and the hospitality industry have been hit hardest, forcing companies to cut employees’ salaries to stay afloat.  In uncertain circumstances, if there is a silver lining, it is that CEOs across the board are sharing in the pain of their employees by giving up their own pay.

For example, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is forgoing his salary for the rest of 2020. “I will not be taking any salary for the balance of 2020 and my executive team will be taking a 50% cut in pay,” said Sorenson.

George Scorsis, entrepreneur and a leader in regulated industries noted: “When faced with a crisis like the one we are dealing with currently, I think there needs to be an all-hands-on approach.  People are losing their jobs and for CEOs and business executives to give up their salary or donate millions of dollars to the cause, it shows they actually care.”

Even under normal circumstances, these days, it’s increasingly common to hear talk of ambitious people entering the workforce seeking something more fulfilling than just a paycheck. They are looking for professional environments where they can be challenged, are given the chance to improve or learn new skills, and where they can see their growth potential realized.

“At the end of the day,” says Scorsis, “it’s not about how much money you made.  Sure, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but really, you get more fulfillment from helping someone or improving their life in some way.”

So what, if not for salary, are the big factors influencing business leaders like him to strive and excel? And no, we’re not talking about bonuses or equity either.

Crushing goals:

Business leaders are natural go-getters and overachievers. There’s nothing like setting up a challenge for oneself and then using one’s brains, experience and a bit of gumption to overcome those hurdles.

Planning targets, reaching them, and then starting over with the next round of goals is plenty motivating and rewarding in itself. Sure, every promotion probably brings a bump in pay, but plenty of the world’s best business leaders would likely eschew the pay raise for the higher position if it were an ultimatum.

Leading a team:

As a business leader, you’re not out there working solely for yourself. You’re the head of a team, the quarterback and general all rolled into one. Being able to steer your crew to success pays off in ways unquantifiable as cash.

A great business leader gains satisfaction from the respect they earn from their employees, and takes pride in being a mentor and coach. It doesn’t matter if you’re a project manager of a small crew or CEO of a multinational corporation, witnessing the growth and success of your team is great personal validation.

CEO of PhishLabs, Tony Prince employs around 130 people and notes the following about leadership: “Informal one-on-ones is what makes a difference. I enjoy spending time with my leaders and making sure we have a shared vision,” he says.

Making a difference:

Whether your business sells the latest energy drink, business software, medical equipment or financial advice, you’re bringing something to the market and to society at large. Knowing you, as a business leader, are helming the introduction of innovative goods and services which will impact people’s lives is certainly a spur to do a great job.

“Most importantly, a business leader needs to have passion for what they’re doing over all else, even money.  If there is no passion, other people will pick up on that,” says George Scorsis.

From a new toy to make a child smile, to a cutting-edge microchip that will make society’s infrastructure run more intelligently, a business leader should take pride in their important role to make such developments happen.


True business leaders know that the best approach to success comes not just from money, but from outside factors like making a meaningful footprint on society. When it comes to a deeper and more fulfilling sense of professional achievement, the most inspiring business leaders will always be thinking bigger and more long term than the next paycheck or bonus.