What are the most defining attributes of a great leader? Most people will answer that question with an endless list of qualities – from self-confidence and delegation to honesty and integrity.
But what sets visionary leaders apart is their undying willingness to adapt, learn, grow, and give back to their communities.
Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Rafi Edry – founders of the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities – are living proof that such leaders exist in today’s society.
Homage to Humble Beginnings
In the 1970s, Eyal Edry was a vibrant 17-year-old looking forward to life beyond his hometown of Safed. He had dreams of earning a college degree and getting a respectable job.
Years later, Eyal Edry’s dreams came to fruition when he established multiple companies in Africa with his brothers, Moshe Edree and Refael Edry. But the journey to that summit was filled with roadblocks.
After leaving school to earn money and support his family, Eyal Edry enlisted in the IDF. But an accident on duty left him with a severe spine injury and rendered him a quadriplegic.
The silver lining is that Eyal Edry got his chance to go to college and earn a degree in psychology. Today, he’s a world-renowned business leader known for his professional accomplishments.
But the agony of a deprived childhood never left Eyal Edry and his brothers, Moshe Edree and Refael Edry. With more nearly a million Israeli children living in poverty, they couldn’t bear to stand and watch the country’s social disparities.
That’s what prompted them to establish the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities. Named after their father, the organization has launched a plethora of initiatives to support children and adolescents in the Israeli periphery.
From long-term mentoring and scholarship programs to the development of peripheral infrastructure – the Ahinoam Association strives to create equal opportunities for children from underprivileged backgrounds.
The quest to alleviate social disparities led Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry to launch a fundraising campaign at the onset of the pandemic. It helped provide computers to more than 30,000 children from low-income households.
In the absence of the Ahinoam Association, these children would’ve been left with no choice but to abandon their education. It’s particularly important considering that nearly 36% of children in Israel’s rural periphery don’t even have access to cell phones.
So, what can the leaders of tomorrow learn from these social endeavors? Let’s find out.
Investing in Technological Development
With online learning and remote work becoming more prevalent, it’s crucial for leaders to bridge the digital divide between different classes of people. While children in urban areas have easy access to the internet and electronic gadgets, the scenario is different in rural areas.
The onus is on leaders to recognize and resolve these disparities. Otherwise, a large section of the youth will grow up feeling abandoned and resentful. That, in turn, could threaten a country’s social resilience.
Empathizing With the Youth
Eyal Edry, Moshe Edry, and Refael Edry’s story highlights the importance of empathy in leadership. Despite being in a position of power, great leaders understand the hardships faced by people from different backgrounds.
Considering that youngsters will shape the future of human civilization, it’s important for leaders to delve deeper into their struggles.
Having had first-hand experience of financial hardships equips Eyal Edry and his brothers with enough knowledge to understand the youth. That, in turn, helps them develop effective solutions for the youth to develop their acumen and facilitate their integration into the job market.
The resounding success of the Ahinoam Association’s fundraising initiative shows that visionary leaders don’t wait for others to act. When the Israeli government issued orders for school closures, Eyal Edry approaches several authorities to seek help for nearly 400,000 who didn’t have access to computers.
But he didn’t let government inaction get the better of him. Instead, he joined hands with his brothers to invite donations from ordinary citizens and businesses. It’s a stellar example of how visionary leaders set the path for others to follow.
Staying True to the Roots
The reason Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry are still advocating for children in the Israeli periphery is that they haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings. They still remember the pain of being denied equal opportunities due to a lack of financial resources.
The mark of a great leader is that they never forget where they came from, and how they conquered every obstacle on their road to success.
Eyal Edry and his brothers have shown that you don’t have to move mountains to change the world. Future leaders should focus on working at the grassroots level for the upliftment of the community. Empathy, proactiveness, and humility are the traits that’ll define the leaders of tomorrow.