Leadership roles in any organization can include several positions, from the board of directors and the chief executive officer (CEO) on down. While companies may not need to fill every role in the C-suite from day one, leadership at the top will generally need to expand as organizations grow and their goals evolve to become more complex. How C-suites expand and which leaders are added first can depend on many factors, from company growth rates and goals to industry trends, organizational challenges, and much more.
Despite the ways that great leadership can be nuanced, there are roughly a dozen roles at the top that tend to comprise the typical C-suite, once fully staffed. The C-suite org chart below outlines the top-most leadership roles that generally report to and support the CEO and board of directors in an organization.
While a clear structure of leadership roles can help position a business for greater success, staff below the C-suite should be similarly organized, with clear reporting and oversight relationships to maximize efficiency and keep everyone working towards the same long-term objectives.
Major publicly traded companies typically need several C-suite leaders, with executives filling the essential roles of:
Smaller operations typically only need one C-suite executive, at the most two or three. A small business may have individuals leading key functions of a company, such as finance or marketing, who do not hold C-level titles.
Among the top C-suite roles added in the last five years are:
This creates new opportunities both to enter the C-suite and to advance within the C-suite. At the same time that the C-suite has been evolving to include more technology-related roles, the ranks of executives have become more demographically diverse. Progress remains to be made in this area, however.
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How the Roles of CEO vs COO vs CFO Differ & Support Each Other
The CEO is the highest-level C-suite role in a company, followed by the COO, then the CFO. In other words, COOs are usually second in command while CFOs are typically third in command.
In terms of roles:
The CEO vs COO vs CFO each plays a unique role in a business; still, their positions should coalesce to support the success and long-term goals of a company.
Below is a closer look at each role, along with its responsibilities, required background, and average annual salary.
Executive compensation is a significant investment, but one that is necessary for the success of a business. Each member of the C-suit—from the CEO, COO, and CFO to the CMO CSO, CGO, and more—brings a unique set of skills, experience, and expertise to the business.
Without these top leaders, your business would not be where it is today, which is why adequate compensation for each role is essential. Many top executives are recruited by competitors every year because a better compensation package is offered.
With this in mind, it’s wise to regularly review executive compensation plans to ensure your company is staying competitive.
When reviewing C-level executive compensation plans, consider all of the various benefits you can offer. Compensation for each C-suite role typically includes at least four different categories:
Take a look at what else your company can offer executives to show them how much they’re valued. As you work to develop an adequate compensation plan for each C-suite role, start with the base salary. The salary range for C-level positions can vary widely depending on location, industry, skill set, years of experience, and more.
You need to offer a competitive salary for your area and industry if you want to attract top-level executives. Review the average annual salary of each C-suite position to get an idea of what your competition may be offering.
What role do you need filled? Do you need:
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