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A changing of the guard.

Andy Grove uses the term "inflection point" to speak about major shifts in the tech world. I think we're now seeing a different kind of inflection point regarding how CEOs do their jobs.

One era was apparent at our CEO of the Year dinner in July when Sandy Weill passed the baton to AIG's Hank Greenberg (page 44). Sandy had just announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Citigroup and turning over the reins to Charles Prince, who was also at the dinner. Everyone knows that Weill, as chairman, will continue to play an important role. Yet it's clear that a transition is under way. And a transition will also occur when the time is right at AIG--Greenberg has prepared a plan, but hasn't chosen to make it public yet.

Both Weill, 70, and Greenberg, 78, are icons. There's no question when they are in a room, power flows from their fingertips. It's very personal.

Now, because of tough economic times and a period of withering scandal, a new breed of CEOs is rising to power. The business and popular press are still campaigning against CEOs and don't appear to have noticed that something is changing.

Our cover story (page 24) captures the transition. CEOs in their 40's and 50's have a different style. They run less hierarchical organizations and are more apt to use technology to stay connected. They concentrate on building teams and communicating with multiple constituencies. And there are fewer trappings of imperial rule. Charisma is out; humility is in.

True, they still want to be well-compensated and yes, they still want to win the game. As they age, it's possible that they will become more autocratic.

But we're betting that the environment in which public company CEOs operate has changed so dramatically that there will be no going back to the old ways. Boards and their committees are more powerful than they were just two or three years ago. The regulatory climate is one of intense scrutiny. Many corporations are suffering from wounds, whether self-inflicted or not, and require healing. All these factors demand a new breed of CEO.

I would like to alert you to what shapes up to be a spectacular CEO2CEO Leadership Summit in New York on Nov. 20-21. It promises to deliver keen insight into what kind of business cycle we'll see after the current period of scandal, retrenchment and slow growth. Contrary to the popular perception that CEOs think of themselves as know-it-alls, I believe CEOs are hungry for answers about how to navigate through these turbulent times and find new ways to grow. See pages 48-49 for more details and go to our Web site,, to register, I hope to see you in November.
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Title Annotation:Editor's Note
Author:Holstein, William J.
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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