39. Don’t Wait for Empowerment

This page is part of the Holacracy Habits series.

Everyone in a Holacracy-powered organization should occasionally practice the help your Circle Lead habit because shifting power from people into a set of rules is a group effort. One person can't do it alone. The rules define the authorities, but you have to play by them.

So, don't wait for someone to “empower” you. If everyone waits for everyone else to make something OK, everyone will wait a long time.

Below, we've dissected the Circle Lead role into its basic functions and provided some short best practices (based on the Constitution and real-world experience) of what “help” looks like for each one. You'll see that helping the Circle Lead just means being proactive, asking questions you're not used to asking and pushing back on things you'd normally just accept.

How to Help Fulfill the Purpose of the Circle:

• Ask yourself “Does my circle care about this?” even if your role doesn’t. Then either pass it on to the appropriate role, propose something, or, if it’s a one-time thing, just take care of it.

• Actually read the circle’s purpose—for real. What does it mean to you? How else might you achieve this purpose? Consider scheduling a group brainstorming session to explore these questions.

How to Help with Role Assignments:

• Proactively campaign for roles you want, and be clear about any current roles you want to get out of. (You can also negotiate. Say, “Yes, I’ll fill the Customer Service role for another 2 months until you can find someone else,” then add the term in Glassfrog as a Focus in the role.)

• Since you can propose removing any of the Circle Lead’s accountabilities (or its domain), give the authority to assign role-fillers to another role. This works especially well for skills which are a subset of the circle’s work (e.g. Propose giving the domain of Customer Service Rep role assignments to the Customer Service Admin).

How to Help Structure Governance of the Circle:

• Record and process your tensions through governance meetings, including proposing capturing any ongoing work you see someone else doing.

• Lower your own bar for raising objections during governance. Sure, some objections are valid and some are invalid, but it’s not your job to worry about that (it’s your Facilitator’s). If it helps, use the phrase, “I’d like to try an objection.”

How to Help Establish Priorities/Strategies for the Circle:

• Don’t roll over on a prioritization. If it doesn’t make sense to you, push back and share why you think it’s off. Or explicitly ask for a prioritization when you’re not sure what’s the most valuable thing in the circle for you to be working on.

• Prioritize making sure your own personal tracking system is strong. Read Getting Things Done if you haven’t already. No seriously.

How to Help Remove Constraints within the Super-Circle:

• If an issue cannot be addressed within the circle, talk to the Circle Rep rather than just stating an issue and assuming the Circle Lead should escalate it. The Circle Rep role exists for this specific reason.

• Provide feedback to the Circle Lead. Everyone feels uncomfortable when they lack feedback. What are they doing well in that role? What could they improve? Take the time to let them know.