A "Role" is an organizational construct with a descriptive name and one of the following: a Purpose, one or more Domains and one or more Accountabilities. - Holacracy™ Constitution 4.1, article 1.1
Roles are the 'building blocks' of an organization. Together, they represent all the activities that are performed in an organization. Individually, they show the lowest level at which accountabilities are grouped - so they can be assigned to anyone in the organization.
Circles (teams) can be formed by grouping multiple roles together: the resulting circle then operates one level below the original circle. Seen from the original (the 'super-circle'), this 'sub-circle' is is a single role which is represented by the sub-circles Lead Link and rep link.
A single person may fill multiple Roles at the same time, and a single Role can be filled, by multiple individuals. Filling a role comes with a few explicit responsibilities:
- Processing tensions into meaningful governance
- Processing purpose and accountabilities into work
- Tracking the status of work and tensions
Besides responsibilities, a Role comes with authority:
- Authority to execute any action you believe fits your Role's purpose or accountabilities
- Authority to control and regulate any Domain delegated to your Role
Amending a Role's purpose, domains and accountabilities is a major aspect of a Circle's Governance process. Assigning roles is not part of the governance process: this is an accountability of the Lead Link and hence falls under 'regular' work which he can do outside of meetings. If he does not assign a role to anyone, the associated accountabilities are his responsibility.
Roles assignments may be done for a focus area; specifying a certain area of operation for which someone fulfills the role. An example is an "Editor" role, filled by a Spanish native for Spanish articles" and an English native for English articles.
Relevant articles from the Holacracy Constiturion: 1.1., 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2.