Saturday, February 4, 2023 Feb 4, 2023
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CRE Opinion

Chris Morrow: Can Greed Be A Good Thing?

The commercial real estate exec explains how leaders can use employee greed to a company's advantage.
By Chris Morrow |

“Greed is Good.” The infamous quote from Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film, Wall Street. During the movie, Gekko explains the successes that come from applying greed to all aspects of life. In his fictional world, Gekko uses greed to navigate his personal life and lead his corporation. However, here in the real world, is greed still good?

As a society, we are raised to stay away from the evils of greed. You should not long for material gain, but rather work hard and be content with what you earn. Greed can cause people to do unthinkable things to help them get what they want. It can ruin businesses, relationships and lives. Greed can be dangerous, but when it comes to running a business, I believe greed is one of the best tools leaders can leverage to maintain a successful company.

Chris Morrow of Morrow Hill Courtesy Morrow Hill

For one, greed is a motivator. Everyone from entry-level employees up to C-suite executives can be motivated by greed. People are willing to work hard when they know there is a reward at the end. A strong leader will channel their greed to the benefit of all; otherwise, it can be detrimental to the company.

Throughout my career, I have witnessed very unscrupulous decision-making that was driven by pure greed. Brokers were being paid unfairly. Commission splits were made unevenly. Executive leaders were taking more money than they deserved or disclosed. These are well-known real estate leaders who steal from their employees and run their companies based on personal gain. I am sure everyone reading this knows someone who has been affected by these tactics or might even know a specific company that runs this way. This is not the type of greed I am endorsing. When CEOs and high-level executives run a company based on their own gain, you are left with unhappy employees, high turnover rates and an overall bad reputation. 

With so much money to be made in real estate, I’ve always had a hard time understanding why some executives are so greedy at the expense of their employees. Rather than paying their employees the commissions they deserve, some leadership teams take more of the commission than they originally agreed to, and will find loopholes to explain and defend themselves if confronted. Why risk losing a high-performing employee over a portion of the money? There are numerous minuscule adjustments leaders can make within their companies to better benefit and encourage their employees.

As a leader, let your employees be greedy rather than greedy for yourself.  Encourage them to be greedy by giving them the opportunity to earn that extra bonus, new car, higher salary, or a nice vacation. I’m not saying to let your employees be greedy in a way that encourages them to work against each other, but to allow them to reap the reward of their hard work.

Since the day I formed Morrow Hill, I have always incentivized every employee by offering a bonus to anyone that brings in new business. No matter their title, whoever made the initial introduction to an account will receive a percentage of all revenues that the account produces. This gives all Morrow Hill employees the opportunity to be greedy for any and all accounts they wish to do business with.

In addition, I have always ensured all brokers are paid fairly and are rewarded for their efforts. Just last year, I surprised my top two employees with brand-new BMWs to thank them for all the hard work they had done for the company.

Anytime I notice someone going above and beyond or receive a personal email from a client praising one of my employee’s work, I pass out $100 bills. When you give your employees opportunities to be greedy and work toward that new business bonus, or the new car, or $100 bill, you will find all employees are happier and more driven to better the company as a whole.

So when I ponder the question of if greed is still good, in short, my answer is yes. Greed has the power to motivate people and drive your company to the top. Don’t be greedy for yourself, be greedy for the company. Be greedy at picking up more revenue, more business, and more accounts.  Do not be greedy at the expense of your employees, and be sure to always spread the wealth. When the company is successful, let your employees be successful. If everyone in the office is receiving the benefits, it will align your company for the better. You will see an increase in sales activity and company morale and begin to create lifetime employees.

While Gordon Gekko had some questionable leadership tactics in Wall Street, I do believe there is some truth to when he said, “greed is good.” When leaders begin using greed to the company’s advantage, it can transform teams into a unified force that dominates the industry.

Be a generous leader. Give your employees something to work toward, and let them be greedy.

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