Carly Fiorina is unemployed. Michael Eisner is grappling with how to spend his retirement years. Hank Greenberg had to vacate his corner office after becoming a target of criminal and civil investigations.

Each day, it seems, another well-known business icon departs, forced out or pressured to retire by corporate directors seeking change. But if the celebrity CEO is out of fashion, what exactly is in vogue in the corner office?

More than vision, more than long-term strategizing and certainly more than facility in front of a TV camera, many boards want CEOs who can mind the store. Pragmatism and a focus on day-to-day operations and the bottom line is in. So is being a team player with directors and other senior executives.

In many ways, this model is the traditional job description of a chief operating officer, a job that has been eliminated in recent years at many companies and one that CEOs were supposed to perform while also serving as their corporation's public face. While the old crop of CEOs put the high-profile end of their jobs on the front burner, their successors are less comfortable in the limelight and more apt to focus internally on their companies.

Few outside the technology world had ever heard of Mark Hurd when Hewlett-Packard's board picked him as the new CEO last week, just seven weeks after ousting Fiorina. Hurd — the 48-year-old former CEO of NCR, where he worked for 25 years — was the H-P board's first choice largely because he is lower profile and more operations-minded than was Fiorina. While her face regularly graced the covers of magazines, Hurd has lived most of his life in Ohio and is relatively unknown to the media.

Fiorina envisioned and then pulled off the bitterly contested acquisition of Compaq Computer three years ago, expanding H-P to an $80-billion-a-year giant. Meanwhile, in his two years as head of NCR, Hurd methodically restructured businesses, cut costs and returned the company to profitability. H-P chairwoman Patricia Dunn, in announcing Hurd's selection, said he met one of the board's key criteria: a proven ability to execute.

In an interview before he was named, Hurd said he learned that ability — along with pragmatism and dogged competitiveness — as a young tennis player. After playing varsity tennis at Baylor University, he decided not to go pro because he realized, "I'd only be a middle-range player, and I didn't want to end up as a coach at a tennis camp." Being a CEO, he added, has a lot more to do with making a profit than leading a glamorous life. "I'm only as popular as the company's last quarterly results," he said.

At NCR, where he rose through the sales-and-marketing ranks, Hurd was a persistent cost cutter who "made hard decisions other people wouldn't make," says an executive who knows him. "But he never especially liked public speaking," adds the executive, who describes Hurd as "the quintessential, disciplined COO, rather than a visionary-type CEO."

Other new mind-the-store CEOs were groomed by their celebrity predecessors — and mastered how to get along in their shadows. Walt Disney's CEO-elect, Robert Iger, couldn't have a more different management style than his boss, Eisner. Where the veteran Disney leader is mercurial and autocratic, Iger, currently Disney's president and COO, is known as a calm consensus builder.

The switch from limelight-oriented to operations-minded CEOs isn't an accident. In this post-Enron era, the limelight is a lot riskier since CEOs must keep the reputations of their companies — and themselves — above reproach.

"CEOs have spent an awful lot of time trying to raise the price of their company's stock by communicating information to the financial markets," says Stephen Mader, vice chairman of Christian & Timbers and head of the search firm's CEO practice. Now a new crop of CEOs is "rolling up their shirtsleeves and working with their troops to (try to) make money."

The danger is that boards that choose CEOs who are overly focused on day-to-day operations won't have leaders equipped to dream or plan for the future. "Someone has to think 10 years out, and boards have to be wary of choosing low-risk drones who don't have a creative edge," says Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, an associate dean at Yale School of Management.

Both Hurd and Iger face big learning curves to meet this challenge. At H-P, Hurd can't simply rely on cost-cutting; he must figure out what to do with the company's beleaguered consumer PC business and find a way to unlock innovation. And Iger, who spent most of his career in the TV-network business, must quickly become more familiar with Disney's theme parks, movies and other crucial areas.

In addition, they, like CEOs everywhere these days, don't have the luxury of staying out of the public eye completely, as corporate leaders of past decades often did. Investors, customers and employees expect them to articulate their strategies, stand up to scrutiny and converse about a wide range of global economic issues. Even if they don't want to be celebrities, knowing how to communicate is one of their most important jobs.