Based on surveys of more than 15,000 people, -
Which of these traits do you think was selected as the key to effective leadership?

  • Being fair-minded?

  • Being cooperative?

  • Being honest?

  • Being imaginative?

If you guessed "honest," you get a high mark. It scored far above any of the others in a list of 20. In fact, the top four characteristics of admired leaders and the percentage of people who selected them are:


  • Being honest - 87%

  • Being forward-looking - 71 %

  • Being inspirational - 68%

  • Being competent - 58%

"If these qualities alone were running for office," say the authors of Credibility, "they are the ones that would achieve consensus and victory."

Honest people, say authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, have credibility-and that's what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people.

High credibility leaders foster such things as greater pride in the organization, a stronger spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and more feelings of ownership and personal responsibility.


What are some of the other characteristics of credible leaders?

  • They do what they say they will do. They keep their promises and follow through on their commitments.

  • Their actions are consistent with the wishes of the people they lead. They have a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.

  • They believe in the inherent self-worth of others. And they learn "how to discover and communicate the shared values and visions that can form a common ground on which all can stand."

  • They are capable of making a difference in the lives of others-and liberating the leaders in everyone.

  • They admit their mistakes. They realize that attempting to hide mistakes is much more damaging and erodes credibility. But when they admit to making a mistake, they do something about it.

  • They arouse optimistic feelings and enable their people to hold positive thoughts about the possibilities of success.

  • They create a climate for learning characterized by trust and openness.

Source: Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104 Reprinted from: Communication Briefings - VoL XV, No. IlL



  • Don't compete with group members. Give their ideas precedence over yours.

  • Listen to everyone. Paraphrase, but don't judge.

  • Don't put anyone on the defensive. Assume that everyone's ideas have value.

  • Control the dominant people without alienating them.

  • Realize that your interest and alert ness are contagious.

  • Keep all participants informed about where they are and what's expected of them. Keep notes on flip charts or a board that everyone can see.

  • Check with the person who owns the problem to find out if an idea is worth pursuing or if a proposed solution is satisfactory.

  • Give others a turn at running the meeting. Those who learn to lead learn how to participate.

Source: Financial Times, 14 E. 60th St., New York, NY 10022. Reprinted from: Communication Briefings Vol. XV, No.111



Your annual report will be more effective if it has these features, according to Sid Cato, publisher of the Newsletter on Annual Reports:

  • Complete financial disclosure rather than a mere summary.

  • Content that does not use confusing legalistic terms that offer no context for interpreting financial data.

  • Action-oriented contents list that uses teaser lines to grab reader interest-and a special editorial section.

  • Mission statement and a glossary of terms used in the report.

  • Shareholders letter that readers will believe the CEO actually wrote.

  • 12-word average sentence length.

  • Four colors printed on recycled paper.

  • "Magazine" appearance with a consistent page grid.

  • Photo captions, subheads and pull quotes.

  • Stated theme fully supported by photos and text.

  • Photo of the CEO and-in most cases photos of officers and directors.

  • Biographies of officers and directors.

Source: The Editorial Eye, Reprinted from: Communication Briefings - March 1997; Vol. 16, No.5