Voluntary-sector chief executives often have no time to develop their leadership skills or ensure that the right people are appointed to senior management posts.
Research by the chief executives' body ACEVO and management consultancy Hay Group showed that many heads of charities and voluntary groups would welcome the development of more external leadership programmes that would help them tune their management skills.
"How voluntary-sector leaders lead is fundamental to keeping lower paid workers, volunteers and beneficiaries on board and we should be investing in this," said Jonathan Cormack, of Hay Group.
The research also sought to identify the most effective leadership characteristics that bring motivation and success to a charity's campaigning and fundraising.
It found that self-confidence and resilience are more necessary traits for voluntary-sector bosses than for their private-sector counterparts because of their dual accountability for service provision to clients and funders.