What is C-Level Management?

Learn more about the most common C-level management positions.

What is C-Level Management

July 14th, 2020

C-level management, otherwise known as C-suite, includes the top-level management positions in a company. These executives are responsible for making the key strategic decisions that affect the business as a whole. There are various job titles within the C-suite, and each has its own role to play in the business.

Definition of C-Level Management:

C-level management is also known as "C-level executives" or the "C-suite." This level of management is known as "C-level" because the job titles in this level usually begin with the letter "C-," as in Chief Executive Officer, or CEO. The executives who hold positions in the C-suite are at the head of their particular area or department within the business. They have a lot of influence and strategic responsibilities within the business, including:

  • Strategic planning.
  • Stock decisions.
  • Task delegation.
  • Information gathering from lower-level management and employees for decision making.
  • Collaboration amongst themselves.
  • Hiring and firing employees, including management employees.

C-level management is essential to any business as they provide leadership and keep the business running smoothly. C-level executives typically have higher salaries than other employees because their workloads are so much heavier and because they will be making important decisions that affect the whole business. It usually takes years of experience in the field or with the company to reach a C-suite position.

Common C-Level Positions:

Position Title

Role in the Company

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Highest ranking position that all other C-level executives report to. Responsibilities include overseeing the business as a whole, handling top-level policies and plans, establishing the business's goals and strategies, and making the final decision on any plans, strategies, or projects.

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Typically holds a position just below the CEO. Responsibilities include overseeing day-to-day operations and ensuring the proper execution of the business's plans and strategies.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Oversees the finance and accounting departments. Responsibilities include budgeting, forecasting, reporting, compliance activities, long-term financial planning, risk analyses, and managing the business's overall financial status.

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Oversees the information technology department as well as all of the business's computers. Responsibilities include strategic planning, increasing the business's value, selecting hardware and software, and improving customer service through technology.

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Often overlapping with the CIO's duties, the CTO oversees information systems and technology development. If a company has both a CIO and a CTO, then the CTO focuses on innovation rather than the management of the IT infrastructure, which falls to the CIO. Responsibilities include overseeing new technological, product, and feature developments.

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Oversees the marketing department. Responsibilities include managing the brand, overseeing product positioning, preparing marketing strategies, overseeing client communications and email campaigns, conducting industry research, and overseeing the return on investment (ROIs) from marketing activities.

Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

Oversees the HR department and the people within the business. Responsibilities include establishing a successful hiring process, training and evaluating employees, overseeing employee development, promotion, retention, and managing long-term HR strategies.

Chief Content Officer (CCO)

Typically works in the marketing or public relations departments and may collaborate with the CMO. Responsibilities include establishing the brand tone, voice, and position, managing content creation, and overseeing social media communications.

Chief Compliance Officer (also CCO)

Oversees the compliance department. Responsibilities include ensuring the business is compliant with all applicable rules, regulations, policies, and laws, and implementing policies and standards to ensure compliance.

Chief Security Officer (CSO)

Oversees the security department. Responsibilities include developing security protocols and managing security programs and policies to ensure both cyber- and physical security. Sometimes, a business may also have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who will then be in charge of cybersecurity while the CSO oversees physical security.

Chief Data Officer (CDO)

Typically works in the information technology department. Responsibilities include collecting, analyzing, and using data within the business to benefit the business.

Chief Innovation Officer (CINO)

Usually oversees the research and development department. Responsibilities include generating new ideas, identifying opportunities for innovation, and propelling the company towards the future.

Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO)

An often overlooked position. Responsibilities include cultivating knowledge that applies to customer and market messaging, overseeing intellectual property policies, and focusing on the business's knowledge needs and how employees can use the knowledge to drive innovation, marketing, sales, and other aspects of the business.

Chief Green Officer (CGO)

A less common position that is growing in popularity. Responsibilities include reducing the business's carbon footprint, building energy-efficient data centers, mitgating e-waste, developing environmentally friendly policies, and meeting OSHA standards.

Essential Skills for C-Level Management:

  • Business expertise.
  • Expertise in the relevant field (i.e., finance or marketing).
  • Leadership.
  • Strategic mindset.
  • Change management.
  • Team-building.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Decision making.
  • Conflict management.

Employee Levels Below C-Suite:

C-level management is usually at the top of the business hierarchy, only reporting to the board of directors and the founders. The employee levels below the C-suite typically depend on each individual company's corporate structure, but usually include:

  • V-level management: Vice Presidents (VPs) and Senior Vice Presidents (SVPs) who report to C-level management.
  • D-level management: Directors in various departments (e.g., Director of Sales) who report to V-level management.
  • B-level management: Mid-level managers (e.g., Sales Manager) who report to D-level management.

How to Become a C-Level Executive:

1. Develop an in-depth educational background.

It is important for C-level candidates to have an MBA or a graduate degree related to their position along with a solid leadership foundation.

2. Gain extensive work experience.

A lot of C-level executives have extensive industry expertise that covers many aspects of business management, so anyone looking to reach the C-suite must have multiple years of work experience. A C-level candidate should take initiative and look for promotions to leadership and managerial roles. In these roles, you should gain experience in reliability, integrity, and decision-making.

3. Track your accomplishments to reach a managerial role.

To reach a managerial position, discuss your goals with your manager and consider finding a mentor to help you review your goals. You should also track your accomplishments and gather quantifiable data that shows your value within the business. This information should be used on your resume to show your dedication, work ethic, and initiative when applying for leadership roles on your way to a C-level role.

4. Develop your professional profile.

Consider the following tips to improve your visibility and standing as a great candidate for a C-level position:

  • Develop a professional blog, link it to your LinkedIn profile, and regularly write posts on your area of expertise.
  • Write articles for publication on other sites or journals.
  • Offer to host breakout sessions at conferences.
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and regularly post your thought leadership activities.
  • Create mini-lectures on YouTube to discuss and demonstrate your thought leadership.
  • Write a book on a subject related to your area of expertise and upload it to Amazon and other sites.
What is Thought Leadership
What is Thought Leadership?

Thought Leadership is a form of content marketing. An individual can use their talent, experience, and passion for their area of expertise to answer customers' biggest questions on a particular topic. These answers are generally provided in a format that the audience prefers, such as a blog or YouTube video.

FAQs:

What are C-level executives?

C-level executives hold the highest management positions in an organization and are typically at the head of their particular area or department. This level of management is known as "C-level" because the job titles in this level usually begin with the letter "C-," as in Chief Executive Officer, or CEO.

What does C-level stand for?

The top level of management is known as the "C-level" because the job titles in this level usually begin with the letter "C-," as in Chief Executive Officer, or CEO.

Is a VP considered C-level?

No. A Vice President, or VP, is considered to be part of V-level management and reports directly to the C-level.

What are B-level executives?

B-level executives are mid-level managers (e.g., Sales Manager) who are three steps below C-level executives and report to D-level management.

What are the three types of management?

  • Autocratic (very controlling, making all the decisions in the workplace).
  • Democratic (encourages employee input and utilizes it in decision-making).
  • Laissez-faire (hands-off, leaves decision-making and problem-solving to the employees).

What are the four levels of management?

  • C-level management: At the top of the business hierarchy.
  • V-level management: Vice Presidents (VPs) and Senior Vice Presidents (SVPs) who report to C-level management.
  • D-level management: Directors in various departments (e.g., Director of Sales) who report to V-level management.
  • B-level management: Mid-level managers (e.g., Sales Manager) who report to D-level management.

How do I reach a C-level executive position?

To reach a C-level management position, you will need extensive work experience and a high level of education. Generally, C-level executives have a graduate degree related to their position or a general MBA.

Discuss your goals with your manager so that you can be notified of any managerial positions that become available. You should also track your accomplishments and gather quantifiable data that shows your value within the business. You can then use this data on your resume to apply for managerial roles and work your way up to the C-suite.

How much do C-level executives make?

According to salary.com, the average annual salary for the seven highest paid C-level executives are as follows:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): $754,713.
  • Chief Operations Officer (COO): $457,468.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO): $363,559.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO): $266,171.
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO): $234,700.
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): $230,735.
  • Chief Security Officer (CSO): $217,144.

What is the highest position in a company?

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is considered the highest position in a company unless the CEO is not the chairman of the board of directors. Then, the chairman will hold the highest position in a company, followed by the CEO.

Is an executive higher than a manager in a company?

Technically, any managerial position is considered an executive position as an executive is defined as an individual who holds administrative or supervisory authority in an organization. However, there is a hierarchy of managers within the executive level.

Who is higher, CFO or COO?

Typically, the COO will hold the second-highest position directly below the CEO. However, both the CFO and the COO report directly to the CEO, and both hold a place on the board of directors.

What ranks are above executives?

In the corporate hierarchy, only the board of directors and the founders will rank above C-level executives.

Is Chairman higher than CEO?

Yes, unless the CEO also holds the Chairman's position on the board of directors.

What is considered an executive position?

An executive is defined as an individual who holds administrative or supervisory authority in an organization. So, while many companies consider positions in the C-suite to be executive positions, any managerial position is an executive position. This includes C-level, V-level, D-level, and B-level.