Eamon Ryan was elected to represent Dublin Bay South in the 2016 General Election. He was born in Dublin and raised in Dundrum and Dartry. He studied commerce in UCD before taking a job managing a marketing course in the university’s School of Business. He went on to found a cycling tourism company, Irish Cycling Safaris, in the late 1980’s and in 1996 won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. The business still trades successfully as Cycling Safaris.
He was the founding chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign and began his political career as a Dublin City Councillor for the Rathgar – Rathmines ward. He then went on to serve both as a TD for Dublin South and as a Government Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. In recent years, Eamon has worked for a European climate organisation (www.e3g.org) and chaired the digital policy group in the Institute of International and European Affairs (www.iiea.com). He is currently leader of the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas (www.greenparty.ie) and is married to writer Victoria White, they have four children.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I am not sure that leadership can be forced but I think it can be helped along by encouraging a sense of wonder and adventure in our education system. We need to overcome a fear of failure and allow people learn from their mistakes rather than expecting them to jump through every exam hoop as if that is what defines an education.
When you are filling a leadership role in your organisation what qualities do you look for from candidates?
Enthusiasm for achieving the common goal that the organisation aims to reach along with a sense of humour, which is an invaluable asset in trying to take on any difficult task.
If you had to leave your organisation for 1 year what would you ask of your team and what advice would you give them?
I would ask them to do whatever it might take to insure I might not need to return, not to be afraid to take risks or big decisions over the year.
What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?
We have employed a number of younger people in recent years which should leave us with experienced people ready to meet the challenges that will arise in 10 years time.
What leaders outside your own organisation do you admire and why?
I have a particular regard for people running small NGOs in Ireland who need to have a dogged determination to push their cause despite the limited financial and human resources that comes with working within a small country.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I once met the poet David Whyte who stressed the need to ask honest questions of oneself before you can show true leadership. Here he is on the topic of work-life balance.