Over the past few years, we’ve seen a trend in shorter tenures for C-suite executives. While these leaders still spend several years on average with a company, they’re also pursuing other opportunities to further their career and increase expertise. While turnover for C-suite positions may be higher, it also means opportunities for companies to expand their c-suite by bringing on younger professionals in more specific leadership capacities.
Change is inevitable as time moves forward. As businesses expand and become more complex, the need for executive-level leadership increases. That’s the primary reason why executives are on the move and why there are many different C-suite titles these days.
Evolving, In-Demand C-Suite Titles
Traditionally, there are three prime C-suite positions: Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). For a smaller organization in a different age, three executives were more than enough to lead a company and achieve its business goals. Today, there are more core focuses for a successful business. This has necessitated the emergence of many different, highly specific C-suite roles.
As your company expands and grows, it’ll eventually develop a need for niche leadership. To find and acquire these leaders, you need to use the job titles people are searching for online. In 2023, use this list of C-level titles for executive job postings you publish on job boards or share with recruiting companies.
- Chief Executive Officers (CEO): If your company has a C-suite, you need a CEO. If your business was an army, the CEO would be its general. Along with serving as the public face of an enterprise, a CEO determines and executes a strategy for success. This person works with the other executives to align goals across the board and ensure every department is operating as necessary to meet expectations. In 2023, demand for qualified fulltime and interim CEOs will be higher than ever as businesses seek to weather economic turmoil, embrace new work paradigms and navigate labor market constraints.
- Chief Information Officer (CIO): It’s increasingly challenging to keep up with all the technological advancements that impact your business. That’s why you hire a CIO. Their primary goal is to improve internal processes through a data-driven approach. Sometimes called a Chief Data Officer (CDO), this person manages the internal data that powers your company and brings it to the forefront of decision-making. In the future, every company will be a data company, which means having a CIO on your side that knows how to leverage information into innovation.
- Chief Product Officer (CPO): Developing product is the primary purpose of many businesses, especially tech companies. A CPO, Vice President of Product or Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) provides insight and leadership to the product development team. These individuals spent their careers creating innovations that fuel new business and maintain a company’s competitive advantage. When you hire a CPO, you’re emphasizing the importance of creating one-of-a-kind solutions and differentiating your company from competitors.
- Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO): A century ago, businesses didn’t need to concern themselves with green solutions or sustainable products and services. That was before climate change became a top-of-mind topic for both customers and employees. People want to buy from companies making real efforts to minimize their carbon footprint. Consumers expect brands to embrace environmentally-friendly tactics for business operations. Furthermore, potential new hires, such as an upcoming C-suite executive, want to work for organizations prioritizing green practices. Onboarding a CSO communicates to the public and your staff that your enterprise cares about the environment. This person will lead the charge in decreasing energy and resource consumption, while also launching initiatives to encourage greener practices and standards for a sustainable future.
- Chief Experience Officer (CXO): Branding matters. It’s not enough to offer the best product or service. Your target audience wants to equate a specific experience with your brand. Hiring a CXO provides your business with the direction required to increase engagement and create a positive, complete experience for everyone who interacts with you, from customers to employees. Executives with this increasingly popular title work directly with your marketing, development and product teams to incorporate experiential know-how into the equation.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Whereas your CIO focuses on data and information for business innovation, your CTO looks to the future of technologies to facilitate these improvements. A CTO, including an interim CTO, explores emerging technology and trends to identify opportunities for your business to advance. This individual should increase revenue by helping developers and engineers implement cutting-edge tech that improves your operations, products and brand. A CPO and CTO will closely work together to innovate what you offer customers.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Your CFO ensures your operations align with financial goals without exceeding the available budget. This individual is responsible for managing the number crunchers that maintain financial records and reporting, while complying with all state and federal tax laws. Furthermore, a CFO, including an interim CFO, monitors financial actions to find and fix areas that need improvement. This could be a department spending more than they generate or a team needing more budget to accomplish their goals.
- Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO): Labor constraints loom large in 2023, which is why there’s growing demand for C-suite leadership that’s focused on talent acquisition and retention—not to mention upskilling and re-skilling. A forward-thinking CHRO will develop policies that engage current and future talent, helping them connect to their roles and, more importantly, connect the work they’re doing to a broader company mission. Other key areas of focus for a CHRO are the development of Total Rewards, navigating remote and hybrid work policies, and bolstering company culture.
- Chief Legal Officer (CLO) or Chief Counsel: From M&A activity to trademarks and patents, the CLO or Chief Counsel position is crucial in litigious industries. Ensuring your organization is legally protected, compliant and always adherent to sector-specific legalities starts by having a legal expert at the executive table. Often, this person can also double as a Chief Risk Officer or general counsel (in smaller organizations), making it a seat worth filling among the leadership team.
- Chief Compliance Officer (CCO): Risk management isn’t something that exclusively needs to fall to legal. Having a CCO ensures that any step forward by the organization is one that’s taken with poise and confidence. A CCO will bring peace of mind to the board of directors and other high-level stakeholders, while paving the way for clarity in action among those responsible for the day to day running of the organization. It’s a growing role among executive positions—especially those pursuing ESG or DE&I initiatives that require diligent oversight.
Keep in mind that this is far from an exhaustive list of C-suite positions—it merely represents those with surging demand in 2023. If your organization has need for a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), Chief Analytics Officer (CAO), Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) or other high-ranking position, it’s best to fill the role before that need turns into a handicap!
Fill the C-Suite with Purpose
How do you know when it’s time to hire a CHRO? What indicators signal the need for a CXO or a CCO? Do you really need a CSO? Bringing new C-suite titles to the leadership group doesn’t happen on a whim, and it shouldn’t happen without serious forethought to the role this person will play.
Whether you’re looking ahead at succession planning, need help changing the culture, struggling to break into a new market or need specialized skills at the highest level, every C-suite hire demands justification. Approached from a mission-driven standpoint, with key objectives attached to the role, hiring top senior executives requires big picture thinking.
From law firms to CPG companies, biotech firms to public relations firms, leadership sets the tone for success. Think of each C-suite position as a puzzle piece that, when combined together, bring clarity to the bigger picture. Finding the pieces that fit means creating a picture that’s more than the sum of its parts.
The Future of Business Leadership
Global industry leaders like Apple, Google, Starbucks and Amazon already have a C-suite filled with people using these popular executive titles, many of which include Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) roles. They’ve acknowledged that our world has changed and business models that may have hit the mark in the 20th Century fail to achieve success and growth in the 21st Century. Innovation is in demand, and it starts with the right leadership.
Hiring people to fill these C-suite roles says a lot about your enterprise. It shows how you’ve evolved since your company was initially founded and communicates your dedication to building a better company through better leadership.
By tailoring your C-suite to provide employees with clear leadership and direction, you’re actively evolving how your enterprise does business. Maybe in the 1990s, an IT manager was enough to keep your computers working. In 2021, you may discover a CTO can help your business streamline processes and improve services and products by implementing new technology internally. The same goes for titles like a Chief Learning Officer (CLO) or a Chief Green Officer (CGO) with respect to increasingly important upskilling or environmental initiatives.
Organizational Excellence, From the Top Down
A C-suite packed with new executives dedicated to innovating your business and transitioning with the times ensures you’re prepared for whatever curveballs the coming year throws your way. It starts by understanding which C-suite titles best represent your organization’s top-level needs.