The Washington Post

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing is sharing the wealth—literally

(Daniel Acker/BLOOMBERG)

It may be rare, but it’s not unheard of. In 2009, the CEO of Bollinger Insurance, Jack Windolf, received $500,000 in deferred compensation when he sold part of the company, and decided to give his 434 employees each $1,000. And after Leonard Abess Jr. sold a majority stake in his company, City National Bancshares, he gave all 399 workers on the staff, as well as 72 former employees, a share of $60 million of the proceeds.

But Yang’s move is different. While he reportedly owns 8 percent of Lenovo, he was not reaping the benefits of selling a major stake. Rather, this is a CEO of a major publicly traded global company giving back part of his bonus amid a company’s particularly good year. After posting record results earlier this year, Lenovo became the No. 2 global PC vendor and saw its revenue rise almost 37 percent from the year before.

The move is sure to make loyal employees out of the 10,000 beneficiaries of Yang’s generosity. But the press coverage Yang generated (case in point right here) is likely to provide even more lucrative rewards. At a time when so many companies are cutting back or at least keeping salaries and bonuses level, it’s remarkable for a CEO to reward junior employees at all, much less out of his very own pocket. Yang’s actions are the kind that don’t just retain people, but attract others to want to work there, too.

More from On Leadership:

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.

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