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If you want to rise to the top executive echelons, you will likely have to ditch some traits that worked earlier in your career, research by Minneapolis-based leadership consultancy PDI Ninth House says. The research identified three top traits for leaders to emphasize as they move through the ranks: Influence over others, to sell ideas; high energy levels to accommodate the increase in time demands that occur at successive levels of leadership; and a take-charge approach, combining a more directive style that involves delegating tasks and imposing action.

At the same time, the research suggests leaders must give up the following traits as they move up the ladder:

· Passive-aggressiveness: Instead of going along to avoid conflict and then lashing out, as you rise in ranks you can be more direct about what you think.

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· Micro-management: You now need to focus on managing outcomes, rather than fussing about the details.

· Manipulation: You no longer have to hide your agenda and try to twist people towards your desired direction. You should lead by influence and be transparent about your goals.

· Attention to detail: This helped you before you rose to management and in the first levels of management, but as you gain a broader scope of responsibility you must think more strategically, which can be blocked if you get lost in details.

"The nuances of leadership are such that even those traits that we largely assume are always good for one's career – like attention to detail – can actually inhibit effective leadership past a certain point," says Stu Crandell, senior vice-president of the firm.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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