Blood in the Boardroom

More CEOs are being sacked than ever before, undone by antsy investors and impatient directors

Executives at Lucent Technologies, the New Jersey telecom-equipment maker, couldn't help noticing this year that CEO Richard McGinn had morphed from an outgoing, hands-on boss who ate lunch in the cafeteria to a withdrawn figure bunkered in his office. Perhaps retreat was in order. After three otherwise successful years at the helm, McGinn had committed a series of screw-ups. Among them: missing out on optical-equipment investments that Lucent's competitors later cleaned up on and avoiding layoffs in spite of declining sales. Two weeks ago, he delivered really bad news: the current quarter's revenue would be 7% lower than last year's. It...

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