Corporate level jobs, often referred to as C-level jobs, are reserved for some of the highest-ranking people in the company and refer to executive titles with C in their name standing for Chief.
C-level positions are reserved for those with the most powerful and impactful roles in the company, those who make the most demanding decisions and those who earn the highest salaries, making it a very prestigious job title to attain and one that many people aspire to achieve. So whether you’re asking yourself what is a CTO? Or you’re looking to hone the skills needed to become a C-level executive in the future then read on.
What skills do you need for a C-level position?
Regardless of the industry, C-level positions come with an extremely high level of responsibility and therefore demand a great level of skill and experience. The skills needed for each C-level position do tend to vary depending on their job-role but in general, all C-level executives share 7 key skill sets:
It may come as no surprise that at the top of the C-level required skill set is leadership. Leadership is invaluable when it comes to C-level positions and many companies prioritize a high level of leadership skill above technical ability. The type of leadership required may vary depending on the industry but generally, an authentic, visionary and ethical leadership style is preferred as it has been found to get the most out of employees.
C-level executives are required to know their position inside and out as well as the positions of everyone beneath them. This level of industry knowledge often takes years to build and is why many C-level executive positions are restricted to those with the most experience.
The ability to think strategically and to set a strategic direction is another important skill in the C-level suite and one which has gained a lot of focus within the past decade. Strategic thinking should always be backed up with the required technical ability to fulfill the strategic vision.
Communication underpins so much in business and so it is vital that those with C-level positions can communicate effectively and efficiently with their downline and colleagues. Communication also plays a vital role externally and C-level executives are expected to be able to conduct themselves amongst a variety of audiences.
Increasingly C-level executives are expected to drive and facilitate change, as well as to manage change when it occurs. This means being adaptable, focused and optimistic, whilst also being able to successfully manage risk.
C-level executives no longer hide behind closed doors and are expected to be able to work as a part of a team. Teamwork and the ability to build important relationships is highly beneficial to productivity and to company morale.
Finally, integrity, C-level executives are always expected to have unquestionable ethics and to conduct themselves in a respectable manner. Integrity is now more important than ever due to the speed of communication and the reputation of a company can be ruined in a blink of an eye.
Top C-level positions
Although there are many job titles in the C-level four still prevail as the four common positions across all industries and they are:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
The CEO of a company is the company’s overall leader and figurehead and is responsible for working with the other C-level executives to steer the company’s vision.
Chief Finance Officer (CFO)
A CFO oversees overseeing all a company’s finances and will oversee budgets, accounting and financial reporting. If a company is also seeking investment, then the CFO will handle this too.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
A COO is responsible for the daily operations within the company, ensuring that things run smoothly. They also often oversee Human Resources and may help handle recruitment.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
A CTO is responsible for overseeing the technology of a company and in some cases is used interchangeably with Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Although these four C-level executive positions are the most common across all industries there is now a very wide range of other C-level positions available, with many only forming in recent years thanks to the internet. Some other C-level titles include:
- Chief Accounting Officer (CAO)
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO)
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
- Chief Applications Architect (CAA)
- Chief Administration Officer (CAO)
- Chief Contracting Officer (CCO)
- Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)
- Chief Investment Officer (CIO)
- Chief Product Officer (CPO)
- Chief Risk Officer (CRO)
- Chief Underwriting Officer (CUO)
How to achieve a C-level title
As we’ve already explored C-level titles are predominantly reserved for those with the highest level of experience and technical prowess in their field but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start working towards a C-level career now. Some areas to focus on if you aspire to a C-level job title include:
- Expanding your technical ability – grow your skill set, become accredited by recognized bodies and never stop learning.
- Working on your teamwork – It’s never too early to work on your teamwork and leadership skills, make yourself stand out as a team player, consider attending team-building events and ensure your CV demonstrates your leadership skill.
- Developing a strategic mindset – a strategic mindset is one which often comes with many years in business but that doesn’t mean that you can’t accelerate its development by beginning to think strategically in your current role.
- Putting your head down – Junior individuals attaining C-level positions is not unheard of but usually comes as a result of solid hard work – put your head down, stay productive and really focus on pushing your career forward.
- Upholding your integrity – you may see chances to get ahead along your journey but it’s important to remain focused on maintaining your integrity, a C-level position will not be handed to someone with a tarnished reputation.
- Do something to stand out from the crowd – In the current crowded job market, C-level executives need to stand out from the crowd, consider writing a blog, sharing your thought leadership or making yourself known in the industry so that you stand out to your current and prospective employers.