See update below.
As much as people say they like straight talk, it’s pretty hard to find in the world of business.
That’s especially true when someone high-ranking — like, say, a CEO — gets fired. That’s because they don’t want to muck up their opportunity to jump back on the CEO merry-go-round and land at another job with another big pay day no matter how well they perform (enough said about that; you can read my rant on that topic here).
That’s why the comments by Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on her firing (over the telephone, no less, in yet another act of corporate courage/ineptitude by her Board of Directors) are refreshing and great to read even if the circumstances surrounding them are not.
Bartz may have gotten the boot, but she stayed true to her pull-no-punches style to the very end. That’s very rare and refreshing, indeed. I’ll miss her telling it like it is.
As Jena McGregor put it:
You’ve got to hand it to Carol Bartz. The CEO of Yahoo got fired by the board on Tuesday, and didn’t mince words when telling the company — the entire company — exactly what happened. As Kara Swisher reported Tuesday, Bartz sent out this two-sentence zinger of an email to Yahoo’s more than 13,000-person staff after she was canned. “To all,” Bartz addressed her email, “I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.”
That’s not something you ever hear from the CEO of a major corporation. CEOs don’t get fired. And they certainly don’t send out emails to everyone to let them know the board didn’t do the work face to face. They resign — preemptively, or with the board’s blessing. They retire. They leave to spend time with their families. Of the 43 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index that changed CEOs in 2010, according to executive search firm Spencer Stuart, just 5 percent (that’s two people) were explicitly ousted from their jobs by the board.”
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UPDATE: To the end, Carol Bartz was all about straight talk, even if she did sound like a drunken sailor on shore leave at times (and my apologies to any drunken sailors on shore leave who may be offended by that broad brush portrayal). One example: Here’s what Bartz told Fortune just 24 hours after she got canned by the Yahoo board …
Here is what Carol Bartz thinks of the Yahoo (YHOO) board that fired her: “These people fucked me over,” she says, in her first interview since her dismissal from the CEO role late Tuesday.
Last evening, barely 24 hours after Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock called Bartz on her cell phone to tell her the news, she called from her Silicon Valley home (“There are reporters at the gate… a lot of them.”) to tell Fortune, exclusively, how the ax came down.”
Say what you will about Bartz’ skills as a CEO, but I have a journalist’s love for any high-ranking person who tells it to you straight.