The 7 Most In-Demand C-Suite Titles for 2021

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.

The Evolving C-Suite

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 2021, use this list of C-level titles for executive job postings you publish on job boards or share with recruiting companies.

  1. 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 2021, demand for qualified CEOs will be higher than ever as businesses emerge into a post-pandemic world.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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.
  5. 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 that 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.
  6. 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 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. 
  7. 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 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.

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. 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.

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.

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