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Why Unilever’s CEO is “ashamed” of his pay

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CEOs should be motivated by serving and investing in others, and not by how much they earn, at least according to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the chief of the Anglo-Dutch company explained the core philosophy behind his leadership style, and how he views his responsibility as the CEO of the company.

“The moment you discover in life that it’s not about yourself, that it is about investing in others, I think you’re entering a steadier state to be a great leader,” he said.

“Because above all, I think the main quality of a leader is to be a human being. There’s no reason you are special because you happen to have this job or this office or these responsibilities.”

Having frozen his pay when he started at Unilever during the recession, Polman added the job is ultimately not about getting high pay packages.

ALSO READ: The top 10 highest paid CEOs in 2014

According to The Post article, the value of Polman’s pay package was estimated at close to 10 million in 2014.

“People at our level shouldn’t be motivated by salary. If you would pay me double, I’m not going to work twice as much, because I’m already probably maximising my time available.”

“And would it change the way I do things? Not really, because I try to do the right things for this company for the longer term.

“So, yes, I am fortunate, and I am sometimes ashamed about the amount of money I earn. It’s important that you then put it to good use. That’s the minimum you can do.”

He added not being motivated by money was also a key trait of the Millennial generation, who instead “want to make a difference in life, and so they look for companies that have a strong purpose.”

Watch the full video interview here.

Image: By swiss-image.ch/Photo by Sebastian Derungs 

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