C-level, also called the C-suite, is an adjective used to describe high-ranking executive titles within an organization. C, in this context, stands for chief. Officers who hold C-level positions are typically considered the most powerful and influential members of an organization; consequently, they make higher-stakes decisions, their workload is more demanding, and they have relatively high salaries.

As compared to the skills associated with other organizational positions, which are often more functional and technical in nature, C-level executives must demonstrate leadership skills and business expertise, as well as team-building abilities, rather than functional and technical know-how. 

Examples of most common C-level titles include the following:

Other C-suite titles include:

  • CKO (chief knowledge officer)
  • CVO (chief visionary officer)
  • CPIO (chief process and innovation officer)
  • Chief IT architect
  • Chief reputation officer
  • Chief procurement officer (CPO)
  • Chief strategy officer (CSO)
  • Chief trust officer
  • Chief experience officer (CXO)
  • Chief human resources officer (CHRO)
  • Chief learning officer
  • Chief risk officer (CRO)

C-suite executive roles and responsibilities

salary survey infographic

C-level executives work at a high level within their departments and therefore do not typically engage in day-to-day management tasks. However, c-level executives at SMBs or startup companies might take on some management duties. C-suite executives at large and small companies set and communicate strategies. These executives are also tasked with hiring staff to ensure the daily management is aligned with corporate plans and policies.

See also CEO and other c-level executives.

This was last updated in June 2014

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For the most part, yes, though I do think sometimes CIO gets short shrift - "information" doesn't really cover all the systems that the CIO is really responsible for on a daily basis. 

Also, wondering why CTO (Chief Technology Officer) isn't included here. Is it just considered a subset of CIO?
Do you think the C-level titles are an accurate description of the job's responsibilities?
Good point, Ben. The CIO role is rapidly changing considering it's not just IT, or even just IT + Business -- "information" doesn't even come close to encompassing the CIO's job anymore.
And thanks for catching that -- CTO will be added to the list shortly.
What the heck is a Chief Visionary Officer?  Isn't that the CEO's responsibility?  I think there are to many Chiefs and not enough Indians (as though the saying says).
I'll add two more C-titles to the list of 'what the hecks':  
  • CKO (chief knowledge officer)
  • CPIO (chief process and innovation officer)

While many of these titles get carried away, businesses in any industry that fail to have executives unifying groups that do similar functions across the business and who fail to reign in growth with organization are far worse off for efficient management.  

A quirky title for a C-level product vision leader who unifies 5-6 product design, management, operations, marketing and other product groups is far better than more layers of management across many silos.

Bright lights at the top are clearer paths to success then fat bellies in the middle.

Réponse à la question posée comme titre de l'article :

Sur le principe, le niveau C implique outre des compétences, mais aussi des responsabilités et un état d'esprit qui consiste à gérer le présent en anticipant de sa suite et de la suite dans la décision et les actes... Donc, ma réponse est OUI à la question posée...

COO - Chief Operations Officer. Often 2nd in rank especially when the CEO position is within a large enterprise. After 10 years as CIO and CA (Chief Architect ) I was placed as the COO due to the expansive experience and responsibilities the CIO position entailed. I was often called upon for strategic decisions when our CEO was off site. 


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