Lessons from Carol Bartz on how not to exit gracefully
After being ousted as CEO of Yahoo, Carol Bartz said she would remain on the board. Under some circumstances, that might have been a good way to ensure a smooth transition.
However, calling your fellow board members “doofuses” and claiming they “f***ed me over” in an interview with Fortune probably doesn’t help the interpersonal dynamics on the board. Unsurprisingly, she is leaving the board.
Note to execs: I’m pretty sure boards don’t like being called “doofuses”, nor their behaviors being described with the f-word. Not sure saying you were “screwed over” by “buffoons” would work much better.
I am not an expert on tact or euphemism, but here are some alternatives to consider if you must describe your firing and the individuals who did it and want to remain on the board. “Held accountable for a stagnant stock price” by “hard-nosed shareholder representatives” might even be a little tough. How about:
- “Encouraged to step back from day to day operations” by “people I trusted to have the company’s best interests at heart”
- “Supported in a decision to move on” by “a strong team I have very much enjoyed working with”
- “Helped to see that new leadership was necessary” by “a number of my key advisors”