Woodbury University hosts panel on developing leadership skills

Leadership was in the spotlight Saturday during a conference at Woodbury University in Burbank that looked at the traits and qualities of great leaders. One of those characteristics: They don't seek the limelight.

“They shun the attention of celebrity status,” said Luis Ma R. Calingo, Woodbury's new president during the first-time Elevate 2012 conference, which was sponsored by the university and the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat chapter.

What's more important, Calingo added, is that a great leader has passion, unwavering resolve and an ability to create an environment where success will continue even after he or she is gone.

Key to establishing that atmosphere is to treat each individual uniquely, emphasizing their strengths and hopefully improving their weaknesses.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) spoke briefly and told the crowd — made up primarily of students — a piece of advice he received from his father.

“He said, ‘If you're good at what you do, there will always be a demand for you,'” Schiff said, adding that he had some “bumps along the way” because he didn't win the first few elections he entered.

Another vital part of developing a strong leader is making sure they have good mentors, said Maria Mehranian, managing partner with Cordoba Corp., an L.A.-based civil engineering and construction management company.

“There's something I think is very essential about mentors,” she said, describing them as bridges that can take someone from where they are today and take them to become a great leader tomorrow.

Mixed martial arts trainer Edmond “The Diamond” Tarverdyan said he's looked up to by many young people, particularly at the Glendale Fighting Club, which he founded.

He added, however, that he's learned some young people don't have a passion to fight, but they may be more inclined to try something else.

“It's not so much about pushing them to fight. It's about pushing them in the right direction,” he said.

Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian said an organization can no longer find success through a top-down approach which, in the past, has built towering powerhouses, such as the Mongol and Roman empires.

Leadership is more nonlinear today because of the use of mass communication, technology and adaptability.

State Controller John Chiang also dropped by and said that fierce tenacity is important to overcome obstacles, particularly for descendants of immigrants. He recalled his father came to the United States from Taiwan with only three shirts, two pairs of pants and a desire to learn English — his fifth language.

“We are gathered here…to provide leadership for this next generation because we understand the hardship, we understand what they can accomplish because we have [seen] people who overcame significant struggles. They worked hard,” Chiang said.

Follow Mark on Twitter @LAMarkKellam.

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