Do you understand what I’m doing?

For six years, it was a perquisite that the Home Depot chief executive, Robert Nardelli, could not do without: a catered lunch for his top deputies, served daily on the 22nd floor of the company’s headquarters in Atlanta.

But several days into his tenure as Nardelli’s successor, Frank Blake quietly abolished the free meal, telling senior executives to take the elevator down to the first floor and buy their own lunches with the rank and file in the cafeteria, according to an employee.

It is the kind of symbolic gesture that has come to define Blake’s short time as head of the largest U.S. home improvement retailer as he tries to distance himself from the tumultuous reign of Nardelli, who was ousted several weeks ago over his sky-high pay package and authoritarian style.

Blake’s message could not be any less subtle: the era of the imperial chief executive at Home Depot is over.

To underscore the point, Blake has distributed an old company icon, called the Inverted Pyramid, that lays out the retailer’s hierarchy, with customers and employees above the chief executive on the bottom. (IHT).

See also a NYT article.