Sociocracy Explainer 2: Diving into Roles


If you haven’t read the first topic in this series “Sociocracy Explainer 1: The Basics”, I encourage you to start there before continuing.

In this topic I’ll dive further into the methods of Sociocracy as laid out by Sociocracy For All (SoFA) by defining the major “roles" that SoFA recommends Sociocratic Orgs utilize within every circle. I’ll also add some personal commentary regarding the differences between how SoFA defines these roles and the ways they currently manifest in our project.

Again, my intention is to create more clarity and comprehension around the classic model of Sociocracy; and while I personally think we would benefit from following these concepts more closely, we are not required to do Sociocracy exactly as SoFA suggests in order to implement the pieces we find useful.

Common Roles Suggested by SoFA:

As a reminder a “role” is defined by SoFA as: A specific set of responsibilities within a given circle, executed by one person for as long as they hold that role (the method of how we choose people for most Roles and how long they hold them is up to us to define).

Here is a list of roles that SoFA sees as vital to perform in every circle, large or small, in order to successfully support a circle’s operations, goals, and performance.

  • Leader Role: The leader has dual membership in both a larger parent circle and its smaller child circle. The leader oversees internal operations of the child circle, making operational decisions where needed and appropriate. They hold the child circle they’re a part of accountable to outcomes, and manage the overall needs of the child circle and its participants. A Leader primarily manages the top-down link from the parent circle to the child circle, ensuring that the larger context and input is being communicated and taken into account. The leader helps focus and guide the child circle and its participants in the direction it needs to go in order achieve its goals in relation to the less specialized circle above it.

    • We’ve had “Leads” in the past at SourceCred, however that role was extremely ill-defined and mostly indicated someone with context on a domain, a willingness to take responsibility for moving those goals forward, and the agency to single-handedly make policy within a domain. The role of a Leader in the context of Sociocracy is pretty different and far more clearly defined as the advocate for top-down input, NOT as an individual with the authority to single-handedly make policy decisions.

    • I personally don’t like the term “Leader” as it holds a lot of inherent connotations. I’d prefer to call it something like “top-down link” or any other term that defines its purpose more concretely.

  • Delegate Role: The Delegate is also a member of both a parent circle and its child circle. They are primarily responsible for managing the bottom-up link between the two; giving voice to needs, advocating for opinions, and communicating disagreements within the child circle to the parent circle, thereby increasing transparency alongside the Leader role.

    • This role is not officially utilized in SourceCred right now despite being vital to increasing communication and agency. At this time Yaz, Jojo, and others often informally play this role in a wide-spread way, aiding communications between groups. This is an under-defined and underutilized role in our space and we could benefit a lot from formalizing it more.
  • Administrator Role: The Administrator takes and publishes notes and recordings for a specific circle’s meetings to create accountability and transparency. They do logistical work like: scheduling and announcing meetings for their circle, supporting the creation of agendas alongside the Leader and Facilitator, distributing necessary materials/references/proposals, tracking and remembering high-level topics such as when proposals need to be reviewed or Roles re-elected by the circle. They especially keep records of decisions and passed policy in the circle, and surface that past policy when needed or relevant. At the heart of it, the Administrator is a logistics master for their specific circle only.

    • So far, we’ve primarily focused on the notetaking aspect of this role in an ad hoc way. I see Jojo doing a ton of that scheduling labor across all areas of the project, which is such a large scope for one person to be responsible for. I also see a few key people being solely responsible for creating agendas and keeping track of proposals and passed policy for entire departments within the project. I personally think we could benefit by intentionally distributing and decentralizing that labor through having an Administrator for every circle.
  • Facilitator Role: The Facilitator smooths and enables the meetings within a specific circle. They do this by helping generate the meeting agendas with input from the Administrator and Leader. They perform or outsource skills we’re now familiar with thanks to Thena and Jojo like: time keeping, stack, vibes, etc as needed to help facilitate conversations and meetings. Primarily, the facilitator guides their circle through meeting agendas and the chosen decision making methods (like consent voting).

    • So far at SourceCred the Facilitator role often takes on responsibilities that we may think of as leadership (at least in meetings). I want to emphasize however, that in SoFA the leader’s role is less about guiding meetings and more about checking in during those meetings (or adding to the agenda ahead of time) to emphasize the goals/priorities of the parent circle to the child circle.
  • Learn more about these common Roles suggested by SoFA:

Additional Thoughts on Roles:

  • Note that these are just the classic/essential roles outlined by SoFA. Other, more circle-specific Roles may emerge or get identified as needed. Eg: the product circle may find it needs a Role like Senior Dev, the ecosystems circle may find that for every co-community it needs an “Ambassador” role, or to step outside of SC; a house may find that it has a Gardener Role or Chef Role that needs to be filled. Etc.

  • So far at SourceCred, we’ve seen many of these roles implemented informally, or on a meeting-by-meeting volunteer basis. It’s my personal opinion that we could benefit so much by slowly introducing these key roles to newly-forming circles, and encouraging them to be performed consistently by a specific person. Imagine if every time the MarCom sub-circle met, they had a notetaker (Administrator) who was high-context, had already created an agenda, and was ready to take notes without needing to negotiate that ahead of time or during the meeting. Imagine if they knew the “leader” role was always going to come ready with the relevant feedback from the Ecosystems department circle. I think the consistency and high-context that having one person fill a role for a specific circle creates will greatly impact the amount of operational friction we experience, and will decentralize the operational labor that currently falls on the shoulders of only a few select people.

  • It would be up to us to define how a person comes into a role, and how they step out of it.

  • Having a role held by one person creates more opportunity for feedback and honing of skills towards excellence in their given role.


I’d love to see us play and experiment with how roles could serve us in SourceCred. If you’ve also done research into Sociocracy and feel that I misrepresented some of these concepts factually, please feel free to share corrections in the comments for the benefit of all those reading this in order to learn about the classical elements of Sociocracy.

If you have ideas on how you’d like to see these concepts implemented, not implemented, or partially implemented at SourceCred, share your thoughts in the comments!

Please look for the third topic in this series: “Sociocracy Explainer 3: Sociocracy and SourceCred"


I’d like to thank the members of the Sociocracy Working Group for all of the ground work they’ve done to get us familiar with these concepts and the building blocks we’re already using which they spent time implementing in our space. I’d also like to specifically thank @Jolie_Ze for their time and effort in getting vulnerable with me around this topic. They’ve helped push back on, sanity check, and bring light to the lineage of these concepts in our space and have impacted how I’ve written about them.