What makes a good business leader?

The ability to articulate a vision is the most important quality in a business leader, above honesty and decision-making, according to research conducted by business adviser Grant Thornton.

Three-quarters of participants in the Business Leaders’ Report said that the ability to articulate a vision was a critical characteristic of a top leader, while 37% cited honesty and 34% making difficult decisions in a timely manner. Other important traits mentioned were leading by example (38%), affecting change (29%) and “thinking outside the box” (31%).

A combination of these qualities helped James Dyson build his business empire from scratch and makes him the most admired entrepreneurial business leader in the poll of UK business bosses, ahead of Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

However, when asked who would be most effective in a recession, retail entrepreneur Philip Green, who has never been to business school and left education at the age of 15, came out on top after turning the fortunes of BHS around.

Outside of the business world, head of the United Nations Kofi Annan was most widely admired by business bosses, just pipping England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson to the title. Tony Blair was some way behind in third, while George W Bush was joint-seventh (with Ken Livingstone), behind ex Ireland football manger Mick McCarthy and Bob Geldof.

However, leaders cannot do it alone, as shown by several comments from respondents, one saying, “Successful teams not individual leaders make successful companies! Without able and willing followers no leaders can get anywhere.”

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