A diverse group of business professionals gathered in the Upper Arlington Main Library's Little Theater Jan. 22 to share insights on leadership principles.

A diverse group of business professionals gathered in the Upper Arlington Main Library's Little Theater Jan. 22 to share insights on leadership principles.

The panel discussion was presented by Leadership UA as part of its self-development course for people who live and/or work in Upper Arlington and seek to become involved in the community.

Panelists in the Jan. 22 program were Cynthia Lazarus, president and CEO of the YWCA Columbus; Eric J. Troy, associate director of 21st Century Skills for the Ohio Department of Education; John L. Gray, attorney and former Battelle Memorial Institute general counsel; and Sandra Metzler, a biomedical engineer with SEA Limited.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Brad Mitchell, director of the Battelle-Ohio State STEM Education and Economic Development Engagement. Mitchell kicked off the discussion by commenting that Barack Obama's presidency signals a new era of leadership.

"When you looked across the Mall and saw the sea of a million people, you got a sense that leadership in the world is shifting," Mitchell said.

Metzler said she sees leadership styles in corporate settings becoming less authoritarian.

"You don't see that kind of leadership succeeding anymore," she said. "It's very hard to sustain."

Gray, who served on a destroyer in World War II during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, said he has seen women taking on more responsibility over the past couple of decades.

"We see more and more women in leadership roles," he said. "I think this means more accurate leadership."

Lazarus, who formerly served as president of Columbus City Council, said there is still much progress to be made in terms of women having access to political power.

"It is still a very patriarchal system," Lazarus said, noting that there are "fewer women in political office than there were 20 years ago."

The panel also discussed generational differences in leadership styles. Teens and twenty-somethings tend to have a more entrepreneurial spirit, rather than going into traditional jobs once they finish school, Troy said.

"These young people are not looking for jobs," he said, "they're creating them."

Lazarus said younger and older workers can learn from each other. Young people just entering the workforce could benefit from the experience of older colleagues, and more experienced workers can benefit from the technical expertise and quick learning skills of their younger counterparts.

"For either of us, our age is not the defining thing," Lazarus said. "Being old doesn't make you wise and being young doesn't make you capable."

Metzler noted that the recession is ushering in a new era of responsibility, with workers having to adapt to the rapidly changing times in order to stay competitive.

"You can't rely on 'I have degrees, my family has money.' You can't do that anymore," Metzler said. "You have to keep your skills sharp. You have to find something to do that's marketable."

For more information on Leadership UA, visit Leadershipua.org.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com