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

operating without a Lead Link?

Are there Holacracy-based organizations operating without a Lead Link?

Can there be any other reasons for such arrangement than the Green abhorring any kind of hierarchy?

2 Replies
Nick Osborne

Evolving Organisation has no Lead Link of our anchor circle, which is called the Purpose Circle. This circle has a Role Assignments policy which says 'In the absence of a Lead Link, assignments to roles are made through the Integrative Election Process.' The sub-circle of the Purpose Circle, called the Evolving Circle has a Lead Link. In this circle, some of the default functions of the Lead Link are starting to be distributed to other roles. You can see our Glass Frog records here


In terms of reasons for doing this, we did it to experiment with a blending of integrative election choosing a Lead Link with a Lead Link with some hierarchal functions, which are being delegated, and so far its working fine for us. The Holacracy Self-Organisation Maturity Map charts the later levels of maturity of Holacracy practice around Lead Links as:


Level 3- Enhances Practice: 'There are some constraints on Lead Link autocratic authority captured in Governance; or authorities of Lead Link are sometimes delegated to other roles."


Level 4- Evolving Practice:  'The organisation has processes that replace many Lead Link authorities with effective, distributed, peer-to-peer methods, encoded transparently in Governance'. 

Stephan Jenner

Whether there is a lead link or not there is still a hierarchy of roles. You can of course remove the accountabilities of the lead link but the role still must exist even if it has no current accountabilities. See the constitution 2.2.3


2.2.3 Amending the Lead Link Role

A Circle may not add Accountabilities or other functions to its own Lead Link Role, or modify the Role’s Purpose, or remove the Role entirely.

However, a Circle may remove any Accountabilities, Domains, authorities, or functions of its Lead Link Role, either by placing them on another Role within the Circle, or by defining an alternate means of enacting them. When this occurs, it automatically removes the relevant element or authority from the Lead Link Role, for as long as the delegation remains in place.



The only circle that can be setup without a lead link is the anchor circle as per article V. but you could of course enact a policy to make the lead link an elected role but that election would have to be at the super circle as that circle appoints the Lead Link.


In my practice I have not seen an organisation run without a lead link but many are sensitive to the lead links role and power and ensure it has a light touch I have seen however the removal of accountabilities like prioritising/resource allocation and even role assignment with these been moved to either policies/process's to remove the autocratic nature felt to be inherent in the role or other roles