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

Lead Link and agile pull


I'm new to holacracy but bit familiar with agile. I wonder if the role of the lead link can be defined "softer". As I understand he allocates ressources to projects, he assigns partners to roles etc. In an agile Team the members would rather pull the tasks in opposite to a scrum master who pushes tasks towards them. The way I read the LL role definition it looks to me like kind of normal "boss". Do I have a wrong understanding of the LL role?

6 Replies

Hi Ulrich

I would love to know what do you see in the LL role that leads you to this conclusion?

I think there a whole range of ways of performing the LL role from very open/agile, to very directive/normal boss.

I think that LL can be a lot like Product Owner - who defines priorities, and defines who is and isn't in the team. I don't really see the LL as 'pushing' work - in fact they get to push work less than a Product Owner, who controls what goes into the Backlog.

Thanks, Andrew 

Brian Robertson

The Lead Link has no authority to assign tasks to roles within the circle...


Thanks for your answers. I guessed it must be more "flexible"...

With my question I refer to the following text passages in the role definition and if I take them literally it sounds to me "pushy".

Page 37, Accountabilities of the LL:

  • Allocating the Circle’s resources across its various Projects and/or Roles
  • Establishing priorities and Strategies for the Circle
  • Defining metrics for the circle

So the LL allocates the People to Projects ("Henri, you do this Project"), he establishes priorities ("Angela, let this go, that over there is more important") and he defines metrics ("Tom, you haven't met your Revenue targets which I set."). Sounds very familiar to me working in a "standard, traditional" organisation. 

When @AWO says "I think there a whole range of ways of performing the LL role from very open/agile, to very directive/normal boss." it seems to imply that it is possible to run Holacracy in a very traditional, bossy way. And that's what I was wondering about. I hoped that the constiution somehow limits the options of being directive. 

@Brian: Even if the LL can't assign Tasks - with defining a target (purpose and it's metrics) and leaving it open to the Partners how to achieve it - that's tradtional Management by objectives and not self-management in my eyes.


I still hope to got it wrong. :-)

Brian Robertson

"Resources" in that context means "budgets" or "hard assets", not people; the Lead Link has no authority to demand anyone work on a particular project.  The Lead Link also has no authority to set targets and expect anyone do anything about them; a metric is not a target, and creating a metric does not convey any expectation that anyone do anything other than report a number occasionally (and then ignore it and do whatever makes sense to them in their role).  So, a Lead Link (or anyone else in the company whatsoever) could certainly turn to someone and say "Tom, you haven't met your Revenue targets which I set", but Tom could then have a good laugh and tell that Lead Link (or whomever else) that he has no duty to do so; the constitution explicitly waives all implicit expectations not directly set in the constitution or in the organization's governance, and there's nothing in there saying you have to hit a target just because a Lead Link decrees it...


Thanks Brian. It seems to be more easy to understand if you're somewhat more used to the concept as a whole than me. I understand everyone works on his own and people are just linked to each other by commonly defined and agreed purposes and strategies but I also know the actual "counterwise" effect of e.g. budgets. If the LL assigns no budget to my projects I may start getting more active on those that have budget rather then raising a tension and trying to convince him (and the group) that it is in the purpose of our Joint venture to assign budget to my own project...

But I get your point - the lines I cited are not meant to be read the way I did - it's embedded in the concept as a whole and means that as per this role he should work on these things while assuring that the purpose of the circle is not harmed and this way conflicts should be solved in tactical meetings without pushing/assigning any tasks directly to anyone. 

Would love to see this in action, to practition this in real life...


Brian Robertson

Sounds like you're getting it!  Consider coming to one of our trainings sometime - there's a lot of hands-on simulations in those, to give you that "see it in action, real-life experience"...