Hi Sarah, very good question thanks. I hope you are enjoying your journey thus far with Holacracy. I love contributing to the community of practice to share experiences and learn from others. The best way I can help you is to share a real life scenario in our business to give you some insights, plus learn at the same time from feedback by others.
I too asked this question at the start of our Holacracy journey and the answer became clear very quickly. In my opinion, it is intended to "break" away from the conventional "Manager" position because that is exactly what they would do in a command-and-control structure. You can imagine how easy it would be for people to fall back into the "old-way-of-doing-things" if you mimic exactly what people may have been used to all their lives. Call the position something different but you still have the hierarchy of a person at play who is basically the conduit for everything.
If the "Boss" doesn't agree with an idea, that's its end of the line. Yes, I realise I'm generalising and providing one dimension here but I'm using the example to explain my understanding. I also tend to think of the Rep Link role a "Union Rep", like the voice of the people. Its a distributed power model to prevent tensions being missed and potential abuse of power as a result of relationships, hidden agendas etc.
There is more to this but I wanted to focus on what my interpretation and opinion is. I would recommend reading Brian's book as I have learnt a lot from that! Brian states that: "Rep links help to free lead links from dealing with the tensions their circle members have about the broader company and its other circles, leaving the lead link more time
and energy to focus on moving the circle forward in other ways."
FW: Benefit of Checklist | The Holacracy Community of Practice
Bibliography:Robertson, B.J. (2015) Holacracy: The new management system for a rapidly changing world. United States: Henry Holt & Company.