Cutting red table, bureaucratic policy and top-down approval in order to move full-steam ahead is easy when one is starting from scratch. Being able to lead successfully while keeping everybody on board is a chess game though. In order to pull it off, I decentralized myself as the primary leader from the very start and looked to do what I do very well as a teacher…establish and build relationships by empowering those I work with to lead in their own right. This is servant leadership. I serve the team.
Starting up an organization such as the Scalzi Skate Crew is doing can be likened to a circus performance. Though the announcer may be the most vocal, it is the performers that make the show with their actions. In this instance, I am also a performer, yet my skateboarding agility is far surpassed by seasoned locals who pull-off incredible aerials and flip-a-ma-doogies (I made that up). Each player plays a pivotal part, and we have new players coming on-board with initiatives that keep the engine well-fueled.
The life of this organization is moving from being a ‘turnaround’ situation into one of ‘accelerated growth’ and ‘realignment’, all the while with an eye on ‘sustained growth.’ I believe that we continue to move forward because of the decentralized leadership dynamic we naturally employed, known as a holocracy. This managing outlook is democratic with an approval process that is not top-down, but shared by all team members. In my understanding, this model imputes an empathic approach that takes into account the thoughts and feelings of each team player and integrates what they have to say very respectfully and carefully into the forward-movement of the organization. In this system, no one is above anyone and decisions are made by consensus.
A keel that evens out this process so that the organization sails is knowing how to maintain a decentralized leadership system in a systematic way. The team players will come to count on it if they know that it is about all and not one. Thus, honesty, integrity, transparency, humility, teamwork, persistence and an empathic way of being become front-and-center key attributes for all team players to constantly recognize. I keep the skate officers in the loop and go out of my way to place myself shoulder to shoulder with them as we discuss happenings or plan an idea forward.
This reality makes great things happen because people FEEL that if they share a part of themselves, their expertise, their know-how, that it will be well-received. Honestly, I keep my listening ears open for the next big idea to come from anyone in the crew. JP, one of our skaters, a very young lad just came out of nowhere and suggested we have a park logo. He certainly does not need my approval for this (though he may have looked for it). What he and I will do is bring it to the team and ‘put it out there.’ We will see what the team sais. Everybody will probably like the idea. Besides, I see that the Bridgeport Skate Crew over in Seaside has jelly fish painted all over the park. We totally need a logo, at least as cool as that one. JP’s sister is working on logo sketches already. No red tape. No approval process beyond communicating and listening to the other team players. Someone may have a good idea, yet someone else may be able to make it even better. This act of listening and communicating with an open heart IS at the heart of our leadership organization.
Cello’s Art on the Fence initiative (I’ve been told by the city) is slated for fast approval and the skate park walls and floor will be sandblasted to bring it back to its original, pristine self by early Spring 2016. The crew is vetting mural artist who would like to come and do some creative pieces and is waiting for more artist to come forward. Today I am making a new relationship with the city’s Park and Rec.’s events office to discuss a kickoff party for Spring 2016. We won’t have cupcakes (just not our style), but we will be performing death-defying feats, have live music (hopefully tasteful) will unveil new art, introduce the inception of our new Skate 101 classes and brief over future goals, like our goal of getting ‘night lights.’
We are moving forward because we are about each other and not just ourselves. This is how we are being socially responsible in rehabilitating what amounts to a precious diamond for the city’s youth. These consistent acts of positive disruption showcase what is possible when people come together under a common vision and a dynamic management style that is decentralized.