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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