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CXO’s—It’s Getting Crowded At The “CEO’s Table”

by David Brock on September 28th, 2017

Nearly every day, I read of a new CXO title.  The latest is Chief Resilience Officer–though I suspect the person’s tongue was deeply planted in his cheek.

It seems everyone.  There used to be such simple titles, like VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, VP of Procurement, and on and on and on.  The CFO title seems to have been around for some time–at least as long as I’ve been working (which is a fair amount of time).  But in recent years, there’s a rush to CXO titles and to getting a “seat at the CEO’s table.”

It strikes me the CEO’s table is getting awfully crowded…..  and I wonder for what purpose.

Yeah, I know it’s ego building to sit with all the cool kids in endless meetings about strategy, and the cool things executives seem to talk about.  My first exposure to the CEOs table was exciting and I appreciated the visibility.  Over time, it became a little less gratifying, I actually started looking for excuses to go on customer calls with my sales people.  They were far more fun (And I was the CEO at the time.   Hmmmmmmm).

Yes, I’m poking a lot of fun at the notion, but I really wonder some of the underlying reason for this–other than the attention and visibility.  In reality, this trend seems to me to actually be strengthening silos.  If we need attention and visibility to the CEO, a seat at her table, what does this say about our ability to work collaboratively to achieve shared goals.

Does the race for a place at the CEO table mean that’s the only place we can get the attention and agreement on the things our functions do to contribute to the goals of the business?  Is it only at that table that we can align and agree on investments, priorities, and so forth?  I watch the discussions of VP’s of Sales Ops or Sales Enablement becoming CXOs and getting seats at the CEO table.  These are very important functions, but shouldn’t they really be sitting at the Sales Exec’s table making sure everything the do is aligned with the priorities of the sales organization?

I don’t mean to single these people out, they aren’t the only one’s doing this–I see the trend in many functions, across the organization.

I recognize each of us are proud of our functions/organizations and want to make sure we get the right visibility, attention, investments, and resources to achieve both our and the company’s goals.

But perhaps if we spent more time on doing our jobs, more time collaborating with our counterparts, more time assuring the organization achieves it’s goals—perhaps then we get the visibility and recognition we have earned.

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