If there was ever a person more qualified to talk about community leadership it would be difficult to look past Eddy De Gabriele.
As well as a long and successful business career, most notably as managing director and owner of the Edmen Group for the past 26 years, Eddy has dedicated his time and energy to a range of community organisations and causes.
Along the way he has picked up some invaluable advice that he generously shared with members of the Leadership Illawarra Program in June.
His thoughts and words resonated with and inspired the group, so much so that one member declared the next day that it was the “first day of the rest of my life” and time to put into action many things she had been delaying.
As group members chatted after Eddy’s presentation, it was apparent many of us felt similarly, such is the charisma, personality and sheer energy that Eddy displays and indeed encourages.
During his two-hour session, Eddy offered his thoughts on leadership styles, both good and bad, and how much can be learnt from experiences with both kinds of leaders. His presentation was engaging, revealing and passionate.
He revealed his “secret” to successful leadership – You, and only you. The successful leader, he explained, was one who exercised “extreme ownership” but employed “decentralised command”.
Eddy’s career is littered with examples of how he has employed this approach, from his days working with ramrod-straight Defence Department personnel, to his own 1800-employee strong company with its staff-driven policy mission of WOW!
His passion for community leadership enthused the group. He encouraged us to use what we had learned during our program not only in our business leadership life but to continue showing that leadership in the community.
We all had different reasons for entering the program, but obviously our passion for the Illawarra and its future was our common bond. Eddy spoke about options for harnessing that passion within the community, using the experience we had gained to help shape the region’s future. He gave clear examples of successful community leadership, which he defined as: All together – working together – on a common outcome.
For many of us, it was a “lightbulb” moment that has probably changed the way we viewed the program, especially the question of what can we do when we finish this year.
Eddy encouraged us to find that project or organisation that we feel passionate about and get involved at any level, but particularly at a leadership level.
His drive, passion, leadership qualities and his encouragement have spurred many of us on to find our place in our community and follow his example.
Thank you Eddy, for your words, your time, the tour of your incredible workplace, and most of all, for opening our eyes to how we can truly become community leaders.
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.