Redefining the C in C-Suite

Redefining the C in C-Suite

Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Digital Officer et al. The number of C-Suite positions seems to grow every year, with each officer responsible for his or her own portion of the business.

At the same time, the need for working across functions has also grown as organizations try to quickly respond to changes in today’s digital world. Do a Google search on “collaboration in the workplace” and you will get about 62 million results.

The success of a company starts at the top. The entire company relies on the executive level to make the right decisions and take the appropriate actions to help a business grow and be prosperous. When each member of that C-suite team comes together to collaborate, it streamlines processes and keeps communication open and moving, an essential part in maintaining a successful company.

In fact, in recent years, a proposal was made to add a new role to the C-suite: Chief Collaboration Officer. It is easy to suggest that one person step up and say, “Hey, let’s work together”, but there are few companies that have actually created this role. Can one person really be expected to be responsible for the collaboration efforts across an entire corporation.

If collaboration at the top is so key to business success wouldn’t it make more sense to instill collaboration as a part of everyone’s responsibility, instead of placing it solely on the shoulders of one individual.

So, what if the C-suite became the Collaboration Suite? Instead of being the Chief Executive Officer, the CEO was now known as the Chief Executive Collaborator? The Marketing Officer becomes the Marketing Collaborator. The Financial Officer becomes the Financial Collaborator, and on and on. Build the idea of becoming collaborators right into the role and the title as well.

Title changes might sound like a crazy idea, especially when you are thinking about shaking things up in the executive level. But titles do matter. They describe what you do, and set behavioral expectations for the role.

Consider the title “officer”. It is a word that implies control and hierarchy. It can make a lot of people throughout the company flinch just hearing that one of the c-suite “officers” is on the floor. Now, change that to the word collaborator. Collaboration implies communication, working together, listening and understanding. Team members will feel a much more positive reaction when hearing that the Chief Marketing Collaborator would like a word, don’t you think?

Research from Bersin by Deloitte predicts that rethinking how organizations are structured will be the number one issue for companies in 2017.  Organizations will become flatter, with smaller, cross-functional teams more closely aligned with the way work actually gets done.

So, if working together is essential to keep your company on course, make the right decisions, and create a successful business do you want your executives to be officers or collaborators?

Who will be brave enough to make collaboration a top c-suite responsibility?

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