CEOs for a pittance, or a princely sum

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Suspending the 401K employee match is the latest fashionable way for companies to pick the pockets of their employees. Everyone's doing it -- even the freakin' AARP, the people who should hold retirement savings programs sacred.

Many shortchanged employees are keeping an eye on the executive offices, wondering if the sacrifices stop short of the top floor. Fortunately, some CEOs recognize the link between company morale and shared hardship, and are voluntarily giving up compensation while their companies are struggling.

Under Armour Inc. (UA) CEO Kevin Plank is an example of such a leader. He voluntarily reduced his $500,000 salary down to $26,000. And there was no bonus to pad his take home pay, as company sales fell short of revenue goals. Plank's salary the first year he worked at Under Armour was $26,000.

By contrast, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally took a 37 percent cut last year, down to $13.6 million. How in the world can he be expected to live on a measly $13.6 mil? After all, share prices have almost tripled since reaching a 52-week low of $1.01. I'm sure none of the laid-off autoworkers resent such a reward for performance.

Only the most clueless employee would expect to ride out such a deep recession without having to sacrifice. A good leader should feel the same way. We need more Kevin Planks.

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