A Dying Breed

One was a good old boy, another a big old star, still another an institution and the last, a returning savior.

They're all out of jobs today and one's headed for prison today.

The "good old boy" was Bernie Ebbers (search) — the WorldCom maestro whose board abandoned him, No. 2 turned on him and then a jury convicted him.

The "star" was Carly Fiorina (search). There was a time when Hewlett-Packard called her the "it" girl — until the "it" hit the fan and Carly hit the road.

The "institution" was Maurice Greenberg (search). He ran insurance giant AIG without challenge and without question for nearly 40 years! Until people started challenging him and questioning him and his once loyal board abandoned him.

Then there's the returning "savior," Harry Stonecipher (search). Harry had retired from Boeing, came back to run Boeing, got in some hanky-panky trouble at Boeing and, before you know it, was on the first plane "out" of Boeing.

Superstars all, who perhaps in prior days would not have seen such rudeness any day.

But not "these" days — when boards are showing their muscle and the guys who head them are being shown the door and worse.

Now, looking good is everything and tolerating a stumbling CEO is a bad thing.

Don't get me wrong: It's still good to be king. It's just good to know you might not have the throne very long and there's no guarantee life afterwards will be very nice.

Just ask Bernie.

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