now he’s done what might be unthinkable at another company. with a swipe of his pen, byrne struck all c-level titles — ceo, cfo, and the like — at overstock.
byrne no longer is ceo; he’s president. the cfo became vice president, finance. the cto became vice president, technology. what prompted this? “there’s been so much title inflation in business,” byrne says. “c-titles breed arrogance. c-level executives expect special treatment. it’s time to end the cult of the star ceos.”
following the leader
when bill carey celebrated his 74th birthday, he realized he had a problem. founder and ceo of w.p. carey & co., a new york investment bank specializing in real estate, carey needed to tap a successor who embodied leadership qualities necessary to maintain growth into the 21st century.
with revenues upwards of $160 million and around 120 employees, carey’s company had plenty of possible heirs. carey also knew he could easily reach outside for others. as it happens, carey tapped an insider — 36-year-old gordon dugan, a 15-year w. p. carey employee — to serve as co-ceo until carey departs and gives dugan solo reign.
pretty standard succession planning, you say? don’t believe it. carey didn’t choose his replacement alone — he asked his employees. it was a group decision. “really good people can walk out and get jobs whenever they wish,” he explains. “you can’t lose key people, so you have to choose somebody everybody wants to be led by. when you name a ceo, you have to pick a person they will willingly follow.”