The top dogs at work often get all the grief.
Granted, there are some chiefs in departments and at companies who are
seemingly over-compensated based on overall results. And there are
those who abuse their positions, either through personal excess or
But for the most part, being in the chief position can be extremely
difficult and challenging. We’re not talking just about the Chief
Executive Officer, but all the other “C” titles at businesses around
There are the Chief Information Officers who, based on our
nationwide survey, are considered the most underrated and/or
underappreciated. As you might guess, the second most underrated or
underappreciated is the Chief Technology Officer.
Closely following the technology leaders are the financial
gurus, the Chief Financial Officers. In this day of intense focus on
following the rules of Sarbanes-Oxley, finance leaders are finding
themselves on the hot seat. But, the CFO also is near the top of the
list of which chiefs provide the most value (critical to success,
competitive advantage, etc.). The only position ahead of the CFO in
this category is the CEO, rated by the majority of respondents as the
one that provides the most value.
Interestingly, while the CEO is seen as providing the most
value, the position also is considered to be the most overrated and/or
However, as you go higher in the ranks, there seems to be more
appreciation for the CEO. While 38 percent of managers see the CEO as
providing the most value, 67 percent of senior executives rate the CEO
as number one among all the chiefs in value. The smaller the company,
the more highly regarded is the CEO.
“Our company is small enough that every
chief brings incredible value,” said one survey respondent. “If they
don’t, they don’t last very long. They can’t hide in the organization.”
Not in any way to minimize the role of employees — managers and
those executives who serve under the “chiefs” — but being in the top
spot is not as easy as it might appear.
For example, executives and mangers regard Chief Marketing
Officers as providing high value equally across all company sizes.
However, if a major marketing campaign fails miserably, the
repercussions are mostly likely to fall at the door of the CMO.
While not every business has all the official titles of
chief-whatever, everyone in the organization or department knows who
the in-effect chief is and who takes the heat when there’s a major
failure. Even though there might not be a Chief of Sales title, top
management readily finds a chief sales leader on which to pin a
So the next time you read about a CEO receiving an enviable
compensation package, keep in mind that not all the chiefs are in that
category. And, those other chiefs are just as likely to quickly take
the fall when the wind blows the wrong way, even though many of those
chiefs are the ones who spent long nights and weekends diligently
working toward the future good of the organization.