Many departments within an organization follow a hierarchy that begins with employees and moves up the ladder of management to top-level executives. These executives often have titles that begin with “Chief” to signify their importance and seniority. Common positions at this level include Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Together these positions are known as the C-Suite or C-Level within an organization, and members are responsible for key decisions that impact the trajectory of an organization. As such it’s important to understand just who comprises the C-Suite and how they work together to better serve their company.

Members of a C-Suite

Depending on its size and function, an organization can employ any number of the following C-Suite level positions:

Chief Executive Officer

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest position and seen as the face of an organization. CEO’s consult other members of the C-Suite when making large decisions, and members of the public often know CEO’s by name as they look to these high-level positions when sweeping changes are made to an organization. Examples of well-known CEO’s include Apple’s Steve Jobs or Tesla’s Elon Musk.

Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) heads up the finances within an organization and typically has much experience with portfolios, accounting, investments, and financial analysis. CFO’s make large financial decisions and must be able to synthesize a variety of financial information to weigh benefits and risks.

Chief Operating Officer

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) is in charge of operations and making sure that large decisions made by the CEO are successfully carried out. The COO often works closely with the CEO and deals with recruitment, training, and other administrative responsibilities to ensure that a company is running as efficiently as possible.

Chief Human Resource Officer

The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) is the highest position with a human resource department, and he or she oversees all aspects of an HR department. In today’s highly globalized workplace, this position is important to make sure that the workforce of a company is well-equipped to handle rapid technological changes as well as the lasting effects from COVID-19.

Chief Marketing Officer

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) often has years of experience in sales and marketing and understands how to harness the power of print and social media to drive sales. When large changes are made to an organization or new products are announced, the CMO works to make sure that marketing campaigns are effectively utilized to usher in these changes.

Chief Technology Officer

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) oversees an organization’s technology as well as research and development. The CTO examines an organization’s objectives and looks to see if their available technology, including computers, software, and servers, will help employees reach those objectives.

Changes to the C-Suite

In the past, members of the C-Suite could work independently to achieve objectives and make profit. It made sense that individuals could specialize in one field such as marketing or finances and delegate tasks to lower-level employees in that department to carry out decisions and strategies. Today that model of thinking is nearly obsolete given how radically companies and workforces have changed their organizational structure.

Deloitte describes this shift as a “symphonic C-Suite,” where organizations are moving towards a more “networked, team-based organization.” Not only do members of the C-Suite benefit from their combined expertise, but they are able to move more quickly to enact change. This prevents companies from becoming stagnant and allows them to adapt in a uniform fashion.

In practice there are several aspects where a company can benefit from its C-Suite members working closely together. The Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Technology Officer might work together to create a digital purchasing system for customers to tap into new markets. The Chief Technology Officer and Chief Operations Officer could research new ways of manufacturing that utilize robotics or other automated processes to drive productivity.

Arriving at a Unified C-Suite

While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what a C-Suite should look like, organizations should recognize the power and possibilities that come with a symphonic C-Suite. To get to a point of unity as described above, organizations can introduce incentives for C-Suite members to collaborate and work together. Members can include communication and information-sharing into their daily routines to build and reinforce habits.

The Chief Human Resource Officer can also play a large role in bringing members of the C-Suite together. He or she can set up processes that make collaboration seamless and easy to attain. When filling vacancies in a C-Suite position, the CHRO can look for candidates who have displayed efforts to work together and cultivate a team attitude.

Bhr Consulting

Bhr Consulting understands the importance that a cohesive and integrated C-Suite can bring to an organization, and we can help you analyze your current C-Suite and look for areas of improvement. Contact us today to learn more about our services!