Titles are evolving as the startup world is filling up with millennials and new management structures. Regardless of the types of titles your organization chart uses, it's important to know the three levels of functioning and what skills to look for at each level as it compares to navigating a road map.

Conventional organization charts include C-level executives, directors that work below them and managers that work below the directors. C-level executives include positions like COO (Chief Operations Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and so on. Here are the key differentiators between each level.


Managers that work below the directors are solely responsible for managing down and reporting back to their superior corresponding directors. They don't have a sense of how their actions may affect the profit and loss statement of the company. They don't have a sense for how their actions may also affect other areas of the operations. They simply have a strategy that has been handed down to them to implement and manage their team to execute on. Their day to day dealings are more involved with execution than anything.

To draw a parallel to navigating a road map, management relies on "make a left here, and a right at the stop sign at Lincoln Street" and doesn't have a sense of where north, south, east and west may be. They get their team to follow the directions effectively to get to the end destination.


Directors work below the C-level executives. They are in charge of stimulating strategy, research and development and have an understanding of how their actions may broadly affect the profit and loss statement of the company and what execution would look like if they were to hand down a plan to their managers.

Directors have an ability to understand how one strategy may affect the whole operation both in the short and long term. They may not, however, understand how a strategy might affect the company in the marketplace and the industry as it moves forward in time.

To draw a parallel to navigating a road map, director level positions know their "right and left" and also their north and south. They also know that there is no one path to their destination and will spend time understanding the various paths and their effects on resources. The destination however, is directed by the C-level executives.

C-level Executives

The C-level executives are responsible for making the big decisions. They know how their decisions will affect the profit and loss statement and take ownership over the numbers. If something goes wrong, they will need to direct new goals to make corrections. They also have an awareness and deep understanding of the industry, the marketplace and the future of the company. They make decisions on the destination and hand it down to the directors for implementation and research.

To draw a parallel to navigating a road map, C-level executives pinpoint destinations on the map. They have a clear understanding of the entire map and even what may be beyond the map. They know the cost of each destination and can project what the return will be on getting to the destination. They know their directors abilities to research the various paths to get to the destination and have a clear understanding of the resources needed. Their sense of direction is beyond implementation or strategy on the road, rather it is at a bird's eye view.

It's important to be able to differentiate between these three tiers, regardless of the titles your company uses. Each tier requires a different innate skill set in the individual hired for the position and hiring the wrong person for the level of the role can be detrimental to the growth of the company.