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

Lead Link vs Governance

One topic that has always confused me is the relationship between these:

From appendix A, the Lead Link has an accountability of "Structuring the Governance of the Circle to enact its Purpose and Accountabilities"

From the constitution, section 3.1,, "The Governance Process of a Circle has the power to: (a) define, amend, or remove the Circle’s Roles and Sub-Circles"

To what extent, if any, is it within the Lead Link's authority to make changes to the circle governance outside of the governance process?

6 Replies
Bernard Marie Chiquet

[@mention:487131859969516841] The LL a no authority to update governance outside of the governance process, except when starting Holacracy and defining the initial structure before the circle has begun conducting its governance process (Refer to Section 5.3)



I agree with Bernard Marie.  I have interpreted that accountability of the LL as an ongoing responsibility to evaluate the circle's structure and make proposals as needed to ensure the circle stays aligned to its purpose and accountabilities.   This is particularly important when the circle, once already established, gains new accountabilities or a changed purpose.  All circle members can contribute, but the LL is specifically responsible for doing it.

Bernard Marie Chiquet

Well put [@mention:476716727643924128]

Lily Truong

[@mention:449833773917801859] & [@mention:476716727643924128]: I have come across a situation that might be unconstitutional based on your explanation. I hope you could help me further understand it and suggest ways to rectify it (if it is indeed unconstitutional). Here is the context.

  • Circles were created during the initial structure process: Circle-Level 1 (GCC) containing Circle-Level 2 containing Circle-Level 3 containing Circle-Level 4.  
  • Circle-Level 4's purpose and accountabilities were not mentioned in or under the umbrella of those of Circle-Level 2.
  • Circle-Level 4 never has a real Tactical or Governance meeting. It has a few meetings in the past but mostly strategy meetings and a meeting where initial roles were created. Many of its roles' accountabilities are no longer accurate.
  • Circle-Level 3 only had a few meetings in the past 2 years. I was not sure it those meetings followed Holacracy practice.
  • Circle-Level 4 and Circle-Level 3's Lead Link Roles were filled by the same person.
  • Then, the Circle-Level 2's Lead Link recognized that the Circle-Level 4 was in the wrong place and wanted to restructure  Circle-Level 2 to make it more Holocratic. The Lead Link of Circle-Level 2 had multiple strategy meetings with the Lead Link of Circle-Level 3 and Circle-Level 4 about restructure both of those circles. 
  • At a recent Circle-Level 1's Governance Meeting, a need for restructuring Circle-Level 2 arose during integration objections of one of another role's proposal (which had many overlapping accountabilities with those of Circle-Level 4 and some roles in Circle-Level 4. (I will skip the details for now). As part of the integration,  the Proposal would agree to the changes to the Proposal if the Lead Link of Circle-Level 2 opened a Governance Meeting in Glassfrog (not the one where all circle members participated in) to restructured it, moving Circle-Level 4 out of Circle-Level 3 into Circle-Level 2. After that proposal was accepted, another proposal was proposed to during that same Circle-Level 1 meeting to move that original Circle-Level 4 into Circle-Level 1, making it a sub-circle of Circle-Level 1. Then another proposal was made to put the newly created role at the Circle-Level 1 into that newly created Circle-Level 2 where all purposes and accountabilities aligned. 

I think many things went wrong here. But based on the then status of Circle-Level 4 and Circle-level 3, would what happened be justified? 

Many many thanks!



[@mention:508243854762339714] Wow, that's a lot to unpack.  I'm going to follow your bullet points in a quick-hit response and Bernard-Marie or others may have their own thoughts.

Bullet #1 - Got it

Bullet #2 - This sounds like it may be a bad structure.  Circle 2's accountabilities do not need to *specifically* mention the accountabilities of Circle 4, but there should be an alignment as you move through the nested circles of the structure.  Circle 4 sounds like it may have been out of place.  An issue here is whether Circle 2 had the authority to create Circle 4 (via it's sub-circle, Circle 3).

Bullet #3 - This sounds like a circle in need of some coaching (or realignment or disbandment), but those issues are beyond the scope of this thread.

Bullet #4 - This sounds like a circle in need of some coaching (or realignment or disbandment), but those issues are beyond the scope of this thread.

Bullet #5 - Got it.  S/he may also need some coaching.

Bullet #6 - This sounds like a positive step.  Circle 2's LL should have a tension about this and the strategy meetings strike me as an OK approach.

Bullet #7 - Here's where we get to the crux of this particular thread.  It sounds to me like Circle 2's lead link's actions were far beyond the scope of his/her authority.  The lead link can't restructure his/her circle alone; that is a decision of the circle that must be made through the governance process.  Have you seen the warning notice when a non-secretary tries to open a meeting in GlassFrog?  That's a good, simple clue about the limits on authority of circle members (including the lead link) to change the circle's governance on their own.

So, with regard to Bullet #7, what to do?  [@mention:449833773917801859] is a far better guide here than I am, but my reaction would have to take into account who the people involved are and how long ago this happened.  At the least, it seems that several members of the GCC, who all seemed willing to let this happen, need coaching/instruction on the scope of LL authority.  If it was recent and if it is feasible, you could consider asking the GCC secretary/Circle 2 secretary to strike the invalid governance (see Constitution 3.4.4).  In any event, I would emphasize how important it is to all circle members that the lead link not overstep his/her authority.  Some circle members may not be comfortable saying something to the lead link due to power dynamics, and behavior like this can breed resentment and undermine your Holacracy implementation.

So those are my quick thoughts -- curious to hear from others, and good luck!

Lily Truong

[@mention:476716727643924128]: Thank you so much for your reply and advise, especially your going through each bullet point and providing feedback. 

Yes, there was a lot going on. I like the approach of asking Sec of Circle-Level 2 to strike the NVGO. It feels terrifying to me as most legacy c-suite executives hold roles in the Circle-level 1, and a few want to have role (or being Lead Link of a Circle-level 2) in order to sit in on Circle-level 1 meetings. I know this pattern is what Holacracy is built to address...It is still tough from where I see it.