Companies must not become pessimistic in the economic downturn as it can have a "very corrosive" effect.

That is according to a chief executive interviewed for a new report from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), entitled Delivering in a Downturn.

Instead, chief executives are looking for management teams that take a "strong, purposeful approach", have "the ability to develop innovative solutions" and maintain a "positive outlook".

Commenting on the results of the report, Penny de Valk, chief executive of ILM, which commissioned the research, said: "The chief executives we spoke to acknowledge that management skills are being tested by the current climate, and highlight how important it is for managers to have a leadership mindset.

"The findings emphasise the need to continue focusing on leadership and management development, even during in a downturn, when budgets are tight."

Chief executives ranked people management and communication skills above financial skills when they came to rate key competencies.

Chief economist at the British Chamber of Commerce, David Kern, recently said that in order for a business to survive the recession, it must have "good management".