Circle Lead

Circle Lead

Hi there! Whether you are a new Circle Lead (CL), a veteran, or just curious about what this role entails, I hope you can find your answer here. If not, ask one of the role leads or your fellow Circle Leads!

First Things First

1️⃣ Read this knowledge guide, especially the Circle Lead Welcome Presentation linked below

2️⃣ Join the #circle_leads slackchannel

Circle Lead welcome presentation

This is a presentation created for new Circle Leads.

It's due for an update (and translation!) after adopting v5 of the constitution. The core concepts are the same though :) Working on it!

Wisdom from veterans

Crowdsourced some advice from seasoned Circle Leads! What advice would they give to someone just starting out in the role? (source: the original slack thread)

  • Be even more role-aware than you already are
  • If people ask you for something (either in- or outside the circle), ask them in which role are you asking me this? The actual (operational) work a Circle Lead does is limited, and if you notice yourself doing recurring work it is often better to create a separate role for it in the circle, even if you'll also be the person filling that role. This way you can create a more clear distinction between views and opinions in the Circle Lead role and in other roles, instead of everything becoming one big pile of ‘your opinions’

    Be clear when you are communicating from a Circle Lead role, and when you are not.

  • Go by trust
  • Always, even if it backfires it is better than the alternative.

  • Be active in giving feedback
  • Even if not explicitly an accountability of Circle Leads anymore (it used to be in version 4.1 of the constitution), you are still the role that can assign and remove people from roles so having a sense of role-fit helps with that. It's also good role modelling for the circle. Just remember that everyone can give feedback to everyone (role to role, person to person, person to role and vice versa), in that sense the Circle Lead role is nothing special.

  • Be aware of borrowed authority
  • Especially if it is not linked to strategy or prioritization.

  • Foster leadership in roles
  • Ask the questions if people are asking for advice in a role: are you asking my opinion or are you asking for a decision. If it is the latter, it might be useful if you ask the adviser what their options are and which one fits best according to them. This is to foster leadership in a role. Sometimes people need a reminder that they already have the authority to take decisions in their roles and they don't need your approval.

  • Be clear when you give an opinion
  • Of course you often do have an opinion. And you should share it! Just clarify from which role you are doing so, and explicitly state whether it is 'just' an opinion, or whether it is an official prioritization from your Circle Lead role.

  • Be critical on metrics
  • Do they add value and are they presented in a way that adds value. Ideally roles set the targets and forecasts.

  • Ask for deadlines for projects
  • Priority of projects you do is always bound to the amount of time and money spend on these projects. I notice it's easy to go overboard and that it creates frustration if it's unclear when something is finished. I've noticed that deadlines for projects help create clarity and set better priorities. Let's roles determine the deadlines themselves but do ask for them.

  • Understand the strategic responsibility of Circle Leads
    1. Deciding (with help of Outlook process) what we’re going to do: strategy
    2. Making sure we get it done: resources, role fit
    3. The roles (and/or subcircles) determine how it gets done

Resources for Circle Leads

Of course there is a ton of information outside of our organization too. Here are some recommended reads/watches:

  • Leading through Holacracy: Looks at organizational structure, strategies, requesting next actions and projects and metrics as ways to lead.
  • Four types of power. More conceptual, and about how power relates to the shift from the predict-and-control mindset to sense-and-respond.
  • Leading in Holacracy webinar: In this recorded webinar, experienced Lead Links and Holacracy Coaches Michael DeAngelo and Tara Everhart explore the challenges for former managers in Holacracy-powered organizations. They share tips on how to lead, process tensions, and get things done while acting as a Lead Link
  • What the Lead Link does NOT do: Helpful to know what you can say 'no' to.
    1. TL;DR:

    2. Assign or direct work (i.e. tell others what to do).
    3. Decide for others, or approve/bless/veto decisions.
    4. Solve others’ tensions or problems for them.
    5. Hiring, firing, or setting compensation for circle members.
    6. A lot of work in the circle — Circle Lead is a part-time job.
  • What you can request from the Circle Lead
    1. TL;DR:

    2. Prioritizations/strategies
    3. Coaching for you as a role-filler
    4. Defining metrics* for the circle
    5. Assigning or re-assigning roles
    6. Anything you need from roles that are currently unfilled

Feel free to add more!