The Rise and Fall of the Chief Growth Officer 2023

Chief growth officer 2023

In recent years, a new C-suite role has emerged in many companies – the Chief Growth Officer (CGO). Although the role has various definitions, a typical CGO is responsible for driving revenue and overseeing all areas of a company that contribute to its growth, including sales, marketing, product, and customer success.

As a relatively new role, the definition of a Chief Growth Officer can be very different across organizations and there is no one-size-fits-all job description. However, some of the key responsibilities of a CGO include developing growth strategies, identifying new revenue streams, driving customer acquisition and retention, and overseeing product development. The CGO must also be a skilled communicator, able to work with different teams and stakeholders, and have a deep understanding of the company’s industry and market.

The concept of a Chief Growth Officer is not entirely new, as some companies have been using the title for a while now. However, it was only in recent years that the role became more prevalent across various industries. The rise of the CGO came from CEO’s who were frustrated that their organization was either not growing or growing too slowly. When they looked at the changing business landscape led by digital transformation and changing consumer behavior, they quickly realized the leadership team they had in place was not up to adapting to this change. So, they either added the CGO role, allowing marketing, sales, and product to typically report up to it, or used it to replace their CSO, CMO or both.

Video: Is CGO Role Becoming Obsolete?

Why some organizations went down this path can be attributed to several factors. The role has been brought into many organizations based on the rest of the leadership team falling short. If you have a strong CEO and strong executives in charge of marketing, sales and product then hiring a Chief Growth Officer is unnecessary, if you do not have strong executives in those critical functions then hiring a Chief Growth Officer is unlikely to solve your problems and this is what many companies are waking up to today.

  • First, companies have falsely believed that traditional C-suite roles like the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and Chief Sales Officer (CSO) are no longer sufficient to drive growth in today’s market. The thought was businesses need someone to oversee all areas of the company that contribute to growth and ensure that they are working together effectively. The CGO’s goal was to provide a holistic view of the company’s growth.
  • Second, the rise of digital technology has transformed the business landscape. Companies need to be agile and able to respond quickly to changing customer needs and market trends. The CGO is supposed to be ideally positioned to ensure that the company can pivot quickly and take advantage of new opportunities.
  • Third, the customer is at the center of everything a business does. The goal of the CGO is to play a critical role in ensuring that the company is meeting the needs of its customers and delivering a superior experience. By overseeing product development, marketing, and customer success, the CGO can ensure that all customer touchpoints are aligned and optimized for growth.

Reality, one executive cannot solve all the growth-related challenges of today’s large enterprises. Easy now after seeing this fail most of the time it has been tried, to take a step back and see this is too much for one leader.

Now, are waking up to the reality this new role did not solve the underlying issues and many times they set this executive up to fail. Many organizations who implemented this role are doing away with it and going back to a more traditional structure. We are seeing the pitfalls of putting one executive in charge of growth versus having a leadership team that is all aligned directionally and each pulling their weight in creating organizational growth. Ultimately the narrative that this individual is needed for businesses to adapt to a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive market, has proved to be false. Reality is growth is not the role of one individual but your entire executive team and what we have learned is that hiring a CGO is rarely the right solution because you are ultimately just masking a weakness somewhere else that could be solved by being willing to make the tough decisions and level up your executive team when necessary. If your CMO still has the same solutions they were using two years ago and you are still getting mediocre results this is a clue you have a problem.

As the leading marketing executive search firm, we focus specifically on Director through C-Suite roles in marketing, digital, product, brand, communications, e-commerce, media and advertising. What over twenty-five years in the business has taught us is your Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Product Officer or Chief Digital Officer not only needs to be great at their job today but even more importantly they need to be a lifelong learner, because what got them to their current role does not guarantee them or their company continued success.

Hiring a Chief Growth Officer to mask a deficiency elsewhere does not remove the other non-performing leader. Or if you do remove another role entirely did you really solve the problem for just rearrange deck chairs on a sinking ship? No matter how good the new CGO hire is, are you setting them up to fail based on unrealistic expectations? Are you creating strife on your leadership team as other roles are no longer clearly defined?

In conclusion, the rise of the Chief Growth Officer is a response to the changing business landscape and the need for companies to be agile, customer-focused, and growth-oriented. Unfortunately, the belief that one executive, the CGO, can bring together all the different areas of the business to create a holistic view of growth and ensure that the company is well-positioned to respond to new opportunities and challenges, has proven to be a fool’s errand. As businesses continue to navigate an increasingly competitive market, having an executive filled with lifelong learners is critical in driving growth and success.

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