An interesting juxtapostion of stories in the Wharton Business Schools online magazine puts an assessment of Robert Nardelli's tenure at Home Depot side-by-side with a summary of interviews with five CEOs about getting and staying at the top. A cursory review of the five CEO interviews suggests that the issue of compensation and exit packages is not part of the discussion.
Since it is evident that not much happens when the media raises the issue of "unjustifiably" high compensation among CEOs of companies whose business performance and stock price meet neither investor nor analyst expectations and lag industry benchmarks, isn't this the perfect issue for a CEO who wants to make a mark as a thoughtful and forward-thinking leader to take on?
I have seen few stories in which a CEO addresses what shareholders have a right to expect with respect to his or her compensation, or what boards of directors should do if faced with unsatisfactory CEO performance. When asked in a TV interview about his compensation package, the former CEO of the Bank of Montreal, Matthew Barrett, said "either the laborer is worthy of his hire or he isn't." The question for other CEOs is What do you do if he or she isn't?