Carol Bartz: Perhaps not a role model for how to leave a job?

Carol Bartz in 2009
Carol Bartz, the (now) former CEO of Yahoo! was apparently fired over the phone this week. Harsh.

Respectful? No.

Appropriate way to fire anyone? Never.

A good idea to call the Chairman and the board "doofuses" (as reported by the LA Times) or say that the board "f***d me over" in an interview recounted on after it happens? Probably not.

From all the news articles you can tell it was probably a pretty bad situation before the firing. And I certainly don't know if it was deserved or not.

Ranked 91st on the Forbes Executive Pay Ranking and running an organization valued at around $16b, Bartz was clearly in a role very different from many of ours with different challenges. But does that make how you should leave a job different?

When we leave roles most of us try to do so with some dignity, no matter what the circumstances, to cement contacts for your network and to sure up the referees we may need in the future. Maybe when you're in the media and the market already has an opinion of how you performed, the CEO of such a visible organization as Yahoo! doesn't need to be worried about such things.

But apart from venting some anger in public name, is name calling a good idea?

Personally, whatever the circumstance I don't see what Bartz had to gain.

And I don't think it's being a very good role model.

Let's chat

- Karen


  1. I agree Karen. Whilst personally, I am not an advocate of hiding your feelings and soldiering on regardless aka Hilary Clinton, I think that speaking from a place of anger or extreme emotion is unwise when you are very much in the public eye. Public sympathy is fickle and all the goodwill she may have had as a result of being fired over the phone will certainly have been shaken by her histrionic reaction. However, if I was in her position, I cannot say that I would had mastery over my indignation either. She's human after all.

  2. The role model argument is very strong, Karen. I hate to say that women are called to a higher standard, but there are a lot of women in business rooting for people like Carol Bartz, and when she misbehaves, it can feel like a setback.

    Of course, there are probably those who feel that, if powerful men can swear and misbehave, powerful women should be able to, too. I disagree, but take the point. Don't remember the last time a male exec was fired and threw a public tantrum, but maybe another reader can remind me.

  3. I agree Cynthia - it's harsh that women seem to be held to higher account. But I don't think bad behavior by men is acceptable either.

    And the reality is that whilst there are less women at the top there will be more eyes on them.

    Investment Impact - do you think Hilary may have had a rant behind closed doors and called Bill a Doofus? ☺