Too many Chiefs?

I just finished reading an article by Gartner (“CEO Advisory: Information and Technology Leadership Jobs Are Proliferating”, October 16, 2012) introducing several new “Chief Officer” roles within corporate IT, or at least the trend as Gartner perceives it.

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It strikes me that there are already so many “chief officer” roles (including Chief Sales Officer, Chief People Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and on, and on …) that we run the risk of devaluing the intention behind the modifier.

To me a true CxO role is one that a) has statutory/regulatory responsibility (whether in a reporting/public company or not), b) has a clear strategic business role and c) has a seat at the “senior executive” table with the CEO and CFO and possibly has some level of exposure directly to the Board of Directors. Am I wrong? Doesn’t this devalue the “real” CxO roles (i.e. CEO, COO, CFO, etc.)?

I’m wondering if a true litmus test should be, a) “if your role reports to another CxO role, you’re probably not a real CxO” and b) “if there is already another (more senior) CxO role in your business unit, you’re probably not a real CxO”.

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