Credibility is the most important characteristic for a top business leader, according to research from Ashridge Business School.
In-depth interviews with over 40 international business leaders uncovered eight areas of the greatest significance and value to people when moving into a leadership role.
Credibility emerged as the single most important quality for leaders from across industries and cultures. If leaders, especially new ones, do not have credibility with the right people at the right time, they will be unable to exert any power or influence.
The seven other areas important to people when they find themselves in positions of ultimate responsibility include support of the leader’s top team, the leader’s focus of attention, emotional and intellectual support, learning, spotting and developing potential, plus inspiration.
"Since the late 1990s, there have been many well documented falls from grace for leaders and their organisations. It has left present day leaders and those aspiring to such roles, with few proven and trustworthy examples of how to behave," said the report's author, Philip Hodgson.
The findings suggest that the top leader of today and tomorrow is first and foremost orientated towards learning and is more used to utilising the support and expertise of those around him or her.
Today’s leaders increasingly operate in an atmosphere where stimulation and transition are the norm and the rates of success or failure are accelerated.
"There is no scientific formula for leadership success particularly in today’s complex business environment," concludes Hodgson. "But the research suggests that leaders use many of the eight aspects identified - if not to guarantee success, but at least to increase its probability."