New Addition to the C-Suite: Chief Legacy Officer (CLO)


There’s A New Addition to the C-Suite:
Chief Legacy Officer (CLO)

What Is a Chief Legacy Officer ?


A chief executive officer (CEO) may be the highest-ranking executive in a company, but the organization’s long-term impact and influence may be greatly enhanced because of the value that the chief legacy officer (CLO) brings to the company.

Broadly speaking, a chief legacy officer’s primary responsibilities include making major long-term planning decisions, managing the overall history and future of a company, acting as the key communicator between the board of directors and corporate operations. In many cases, the chief legacy officer serves as both the historian and company futurist.

The CLO may be appointed or elected by the board and typically they report to the chair and the board, who are appointed by shareholders.

CLO Snapshot

  • *The chief legacy officer (CLO) works with the board of directors in a large company along with the chief executive officer (CEO) to oversee succession planning.
  • *Depending on the company, CLOs may be appointed or elected by the board of directors.*The top echelons of a corporation’s senior executives are called C-suite executives, or C-level executives with titles that begin with the letter C, for “chief.” These titles include chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO) and the newest addition, chief legacy officer (CLO).
  • *C-level members work together to ensure a company stays true to its vision, established plans, and policies. The chief legacy officer (CLO) preserves a brand’s history and identity.
  • *While every company differs, CLOs role is in capacity of futurist to forecast what may happen in the future to advise the board and c-suite executives about potential scenarios, trends, and opportunities. In the capacity of historian, track     significant activities and achievements associated with the organization and archive historical data.
  • *Companies that are in startup phase or that are looking for fast profits with a quick exit strategy, rarely plan in long-term and do not engage a chief legacy officer (CLO).
  • *Companies in the startup or growth phases, the CEO may also be serving as the CFO and the COO, but rarely CLO. Succession planning is the last thing on the overworked CEO’s mind.  This can lead to a lack of clarity and affect a business’s continuity and ultimately may affect its long-term profitability and growth.

What CLOs Do

Understanding Chief Legacy Officers (CLOs)

The role of a CLO is dependent on the size of the company and the vision for the future and varies based on the company’s size, culture, and corporate structure. In large corporations, CLOs typically deal only with very high-level strategic long-term decisions and those that direct the company’s overall future growth.

In smaller companies, CLOs often are more hands-on and involved with day-to-day functions as well as succession planning, forecasting, and archiving.

A typical day may show two-thirds of the CLOs’ time spent in meetings with the goal of building relationships. Future strategy, the role of culture in the organization, protecting and preserving core values and archives, all while setting the tone, uploading the vision, and planning for the company’s future.

The human relations both internal and external are part of the legacy a company develops. Corporate culture is often under human resources and refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business dealings. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.  Corporate culture is reflected in the company legacy and ideally the core values and explicitly expressed. The CLO can spearhead and refine the elements of company culture.


CLO Roles and Responsibilities

A Chief Legacy Officer’s roles and responsibilities will vastly vary between companies, industries, and organization sizes. In general, a CLO may be expected to take on or participate in the following tasks:

  • Oversee the strategic direction of an organization with regards to legacy. Lower-level managers are often more engaged in the day-to-day operations. A CLO focuses on long-term plans of a company.
  • Implement changes and proposed plans. After crafting the long-term vision with the executive team, a CLO takes charge of implementing those plans. Changes are often directly implemented by operational managers, but CLO in concert with the CEO, ensures long-term plans are followed through.
  • Interact with other leadership executives. As companies grow more diverse, it is vital to the success of a company to have a suite of executives that a CLO can collaborate when it comes to the long-term vision.
  • Maintain accountability with the board. A Board of Directors oversees the entire company’s performance and holds the CEO accountable, however, the CLO may deliver updates on strategic direction about succession and overall legacy of the company.
  • Lead the company culture and environment. A CLO is responsible for setting the tone which is the precedence for the culture and environment that supports success. Team members follow the guidelines and core values to uphold the culture of the organization.


CLO Role, Leadership Titles, and C-Suite Executive Responsibilities

C-Level executives focus on creating a trusted brand. CLOs turn the C-Level executive’s insights in a legacy advantage. Company leaders with the highest levels of expertise have a unique view of the industry trends, market risk/opportunities and the competitive landscape that reveal next actions that affect legacy.

There are many leadership titles, some of which may or may not overlap with CLO:

  • Founder: A founder of a company is an individual that started the company. They helped bring the company into existence, creating the bylaws and articles of incorporation, organization structure, and overall strategy from the first day. A founder can be a title of an individual currently with a company or a title of an individual that started the company but has since left. Adding the CLO role is optional for founder.
  • Owner: An owner is a financial stakeholder of a company, usually with an equity position in the business. An owner may be entitled to the profits of a company in the proportion of their ownership weight, as a company may have multiple owners. If there are multiple company owners, an individual may be referred to as a part-owner or co-owner. Adding the CLO role is optional for owner.
  • CEO Chief Executive Officer: CEO is responsible and directs the operational aspects of a company. Including delegating and directing, driving profitability, strategy, managing the organization, and communicating as the public face of the company. The CEO reports to the board of directors. A CEO may be a director-level employee, although most companies’ CEOs are on a higher tier employment level than directors.  CEO is the highest position to occupy in a company. Adding the CLO role is optional for CEO.
  • COB Chairman of the Board: The board of directors—led by the chair of the board COB—oversees the company as a whole entity. While the chair (often called chair, chairman, or chairwoman) of the board does not have the power to overrule the board, the board has the power to overrule the CEO’s decisions. Effectively, the chair is considered a peer with the other board members. The chair is a presiding officer that oversees the management of the entire board. A CEO reports to a board of directors. The board oversees the performance of the CEO and can elect to remove or replace the CEO if they feel the executive’s performance isn’t producing the results they want to see. A CEO may hold a COB position if they directly manage a committee, but many companies split these roles between two people. The CLO may report to the board.
  • CFO Chief Financial Officer: The CFO is the chief financial officer of a company. While CEOs manage general operations, CFOs focus specifically on the financial discipline of a company along with identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a company, A CFO analyzes a company’s financial strengths and makes recommendations to improve financial weaknesses. The CFO also tracks cash flow and oversees a company’s financial planning, such as investments and capital structures. Like CEOs, the CFO seeks to deliver returns to shareholders through focusing on financial discipline and driving margin and revenue growth. The CFO ultimately reports to the CEO.  The CLO will collaborate with the CFO.
  • COO Chief Operating Officer: In many companies, the chief operating officer (COO) is ranked second highest after the CEO. As the head of human resources, their responsibilities fall on recruitment, training, legal, payroll, administrative duties, and community liaison. Adding the CLO role is optional for COO.
  • Director Positions: A director may be upper management or executive-level position depending on a company’s organizational structure. Additionally, a director may be an individual serving on the board of directors of an organization. Adding the CLO role may be a director level position depending on the size of the company.



Part of the 21st Legacy Series

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See related

Sherrie Rose – Chief Legacy Officer

Legacy Officer UK

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