Is it just me, or are we suddenly overrun with CEOs that are humble, self-effacing, and just all-around good people? I mean, it's becoming something of an epidemic. I would love to hear your answer to this, but I'm apparently drowning myself out with my own applause.

Let's go over recent decisions made by some corporate bigwigs:

  • Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) Mark Hurd refused to appear alone for the cover of a Forbes feature article on his company's turnaround last month. He agreed to an inside shot instead, surrounded by many of his employees.
  • Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Bob Iger has done away with the micromanaging that marked his predecessor's reign at the family entertainment leader. Iger has been a delegating master, empowering key executives before they bolt while repairing frayed relationships with crucial partners.
  • Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) Philippe Dauman took over the media giant last fall and made sure that his compensation package was based less on cash and more on equity. In other words, he's tied his fate directly to that of the company's shareholders.

No more poker faces. No more backhanded chicanery. Even if it's only a fleeting illusion -- a temporary blip in the egocentric radar of meanness -- please let me dream this dream a little longer. I need this. We need this. 

A history of vile ends
You don't want to live through another Enron, but there's more to corporate thievery than just cooking the books until the company burns to a crisp. The former CEO at Tyco (NYSE:TYC) threw a lavish toga party for his wife on his company's dime. The company lives on. H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) was taken to task last year for cajoling more than 500,000 tax filers to invest their refunds in high-fee IRA vehicles. The company lives on. There are now literally more than 100 companies that have either admitted to backdating executive stock options, or are under investigation for the unsavory practice of pegging option grants to deceptively low strike prices. Those companies live on.   

You deserve better than that. You are buying into quality stocks because you believe that a superior portfolio is the key to an early or wealthy retirement. You probably aren't thinking that going in. The moment you log into your brokerage account and place a buy order, you're not dreaming about hitting the links at a championship golf course as an early retiree in 10 years or buying a yacht to sail your way into the golden years.

You have near-term goals, like upgrading your car or saving for that Bora Bora vacation. However, every decision you make to produce market-thumping returns today ultimately relates to retiring better tomorrow. Really. Think about it.

So what's the difference between a company like Enron that goes down and takes its pension plan with it and crooked CEOs that get in the way of your ultimate retirement? Granted, you are in a better position to bounce back than folks who had all of their eggs in one shady basket, but it stings either way. Corruptible CEOs rattle consumer faith in equities. That hurts you. That hurts me. Hanging up your cleats could be the furthest thing from your mind, but that one debacle may be enough to push out your eventual retirement by several more years.

Enter the kinder, gentler CEO
So now do you see why I'm slapping my knee with childish glee over this recent wave of employee- and shareholder-friendly CEOs? It had to happen. Every action will force an opposite and equal reaction. Once too many chieftains got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, it was destined to smoke out the kind and the capable with an edict to rise up the ranks and lead with white hats.

I know it's not perfect. When Warren Buffett -- Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-A) point man and the epitome of the nice CEO -- singles out that executive compensation is still out of whack the way he did in this year's shareholder letter, it's sobering. We're still a few stops away from Smilesville, but we'll get there.

But don't just take it from me. Take any company that recently experienced a CEO change, and you tell me if the new version isn't a kinder model. As an investor, you've got to love the kind helmsman who rolls up those sleeves when it's time to discuss the quarterly financials. As an eventual retiree, the niceties movement couldn't have come at a better time.

You can join Rick in planning for your retirement -- and owning your retirement if you're there already -- before it owns you. Subscribe to Rule Your Retirement, or simply kick the tires on your own terms with a free 30-day trial.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was burned by a few companies in the backdating scandal, but he does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this story, save for Disney -- a Stock Advisor recommendation. Berkshire Hathaway and Tyco are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool has a disclosure policy.