The study, produced by the Industrial Society to mark the start of its Leadership Week, shows that leaders are most admired for their "people skills", ethical beliefs and ability to deal with breaches of standards of behaviour.
The study, Liberating Leadership 1999, coincides with the hunt for a replacement for Glenn Hoddle as England football coach, with some experts saying that instead of appointing one top name, England should copy the French national side which is masterminded by a small group of people.
It appears to support the view that the qualities needed for successful management may not necessarily all be found in one person and that a manager who is prepared to delegate and take on the suggestions of colleagues is likely to be most successful.
The study also comes as the number of vacancies for chief executive at big companies suggests there are serious problems in Britain's boardrooms.
Employees put less emphasis than would be expected on "strong" leadership. Instead, the top five skills identified by the report are: dealing effectively with breaches to standards of behaviour; not taking personal credit for other people's work; listening to staff; working on their own learning; and being honest and truthful.
Tony Morgan, the Industrial Society's chief executive, said the research showed that it was "a combination of integrity and honesty plus the ability to set standards and take decisive action that marks out the truly successful leader". He added: "Leaders ... cannot escape the need to adapt to this new "firm but fair" style of leadership. Not if they want to remain at the top."
This view is lent support by research from accountants Arthur Andersen, also published today, which indicates that differences in leadership style are behind the contrasts in the performance of growing British companies.Reuse content