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Entrepreneurs seek inspiration and loyalty from their leadership team, new research from ECI Partners reveals 

The top three traits that CEOs look for from their leadership team are inspirational (21%), loyalty (21%) and adaptability (20%), according to ECI Partners’ new Growth Characteristics report, released today.

The research found that loyalty within leadership teams is even more important for larger businesses, with a third (30%) of CEOs in businesses with more than 500 employees citing it as an essential trait.

Interestingly, the views of male and female CEOs and founders differed when it came to the key traits of their leadership team. A quarter of female CEOs (25%) said adaptability was the most sought-after characteristic, while male CEOs stated that the top trait was being inspirational (24%).

ECI, the growth-focused private equity firm, surveyed over 500 fast-growth SME business leaders as part of its annual Growth Characteristicsreport. The results highlight what CEOs consider to be the most important characteristics of their leadership team, as well asking them to prioritise current challenges, how important ESG is to their strategies, and what hires they are looking to make at Board level.

When it comes to motivating a leadership team, CEOs stated that open and honest communication (24%), having a strong social purpose (24%) and effective feedback and development goals (23%) are the most successful ways of driving engagement.

Today’s results contrast with last year’s report which highlighted the top trait that CEOs felt was most important for their own role, which was being realistic (25%).

Chris Watt, Managing Partner at ECI Partners said: 

A fantastic team at the top is always critical to business success but is all the more important when navigating headwinds. What our Growth Characteristics research demonstrates is that despite the challenges they face, leaders are excited about the future and want an inspirational and loyal team around them to help them deliver on their ambitions.” 

Graham Cooke, CEO at Zenergi said: 

“Business leaders look to their team for inspiration because that’s exactly what a team is. A Board must be able to collectively debate, challenge and inspire everyone in the pursuit of their goals. For me, it is not about my ego or me having all the answers. We all have to contribute to finding the right solutions that are the best for the business and inspire everyone to make tomorrow better than today.

Growth Characteristics methodology 

ECI surveyed 513 UK CEOs, Founders and Managing Directors of fast-growing SME businesses across automotive and transport, education, financial services, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, HR, training and recruitment, law and legal services, professional services, retail and consumer goods, technology and travel sectors. Respondents were surveyed in Autumn 2022 regarding their views on the skills and traits needed in a leadership team, the importance of social purpose, ESG and D&I, the challenges facing them today and their future plans for their business.

For further information please contact:   Jeremy Lytle / Fiona Evans   T: +44 (0)20 7606 1000

About ECI

ECI is a leading private equity investor, investing in growing businesses valued up to £300m. It has 46 years of experience, collaborating with management teams to build successful global businesses. With an unrivalled track record of 266 investments, ECI invests as either a majority or a minority investor. ECI is currently investing its eleventh buyout fund and manages approximately £1.7 billion on behalf of its institutional investors.

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