Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Can a super circle Lead Link require that a sub circle Lead Link remove a subcircle within that subcircle?

Can a super circle Lead Link require that a sub circle Lead Link remove a sub circle within that sub circle?

My thinking is  as follows:

1. This can be requested by the super circle Lead Link and the sub circle Lead Link would have to consider the request.

2. The super circle Lead Link cannot demand the sub circle Lead Link to remove a sub circle within the sub circle.

3.  The super circle Lead Link could propose governance that removes the entire sub circle (including sub circles in the sub circle) and then re-create the sub circle without the sub circle that they wish to get rid of. (This one feels like a stretch to me but still technically possible right??)

Any thoughts/comments very welcome,


4 Replies
Brian Robertson

If the Lead Link of the super circle wants to do this, it almost definitely indicates something is off - the super circle lead link shouldn't need to know or care how the sub-circle is structured, as long as it fulfills its purpose and accountabilities effectively, within any policy constraints of the super circle.  So, whether it's allowed or not is likely a distraction (and no, it's not really allowed) - the real question here is why that lead link feels the need to do it, and the opportunity is to help them figure out what they really need the sub-circle to do (e.g. what accountability) such that they wouldn't care how the sub-circle organizes to do it...

Keith Jarvis

It seems to me that a lot of coaching opportunity is available here for the super circle Lead Link and others. That individual seems to be thinking as a manager or department head, and that they control what happens 'below' them.

That's not Holacracy.

What actual live need (tension) does that person perceive? Is there a problem or a lack that the existence of that sub-sub-circle creates? 

Is that sub-sub-circle functioning? Look at meeting record, ask Facilitator to audit. If it's an empty shell then maybe there is a process breakdown and Facilitator can intervene to restore process.

In the course of our effort we have at time created sub-circles out of imagineered design rather than real tension, then they withered due to inactivity and were collapsed.

But like Brian said, that LL has no say in how the sub-circle is structured (with or without additional sub-circles) as long as it is fulfilling its purpose & accountabilities.


I agree with your thinking Sally (and I would say that as you trained me!) and I think 'no' would answer it for me. As others have noted proposing governance to remove the role (sub-circle) sounds questionable. I wonder how this proposal would 'resolve or reduce a Tension sensed by the Proposer' or 'help the Proposer better express the Purpose or an Accountability of one of the Proposer’s Roles in the Circle'?


I've found that most engineered solutions to circle structure (read: not based in an articulated tension) cause one or more of the following:
- people realize that it's not Holacracy for all, and it's demeaning...the person at the top is still just making decisions based on an old leadership paradigm

- the circle is less effective b/c the fiction of the creation becomes clear as they try to live out the purpose. Incongruencies abound and it's harder to get aligned on the work.

Convincing the people at the top of the food chain to work from a tension (firm on the tension and loose on the proposal) instills confidence throughout the company.

The short answer, is they can do anything they want but there is a cost to it.