Rotating cadence lead

Rotating leadership for recurring team “cadence” meetings is a beneficial pattern I’ve seen on several teams.

“Cadence” meetings help a team or project march to a rhythm. All teams I’ve been on have had them, but not all have called them “cadence”. In agile terms, a daily standup is one form. A form I like is Monday kickoff, Wednesday discussion, Friday retro.

The pattern is simple:

  1. As a team, define the responsibilities of the lead, eg keeping the meeting focused on the agenda, cancelling the meeting if there’s nothing on the agenda, etc
  2. Identify the consistent attendees of the meeting and rotate the lead role among them

Such a rotation has a few benefits:

  1. There’s no single point of failure for keeping the team organized
  2. All members of the team get leadership experience, and no single person is stuck with this form of glue work
  3. Sharing roles engenders empathy between roles. For example, experience motivating participation as a lead can encourage participation as a non-lead. As opposed to “taxation without representation” 🙂

A couple anti-patterns I’ve seen:

  1. Non-overlapping leads and attendees. For example, having the eng oncall rotation also lead a cadence including EMs, PMs, designers, etc who aren’t on the oncall rotation
  2. Having the rotation include optional attendees, which can result in last-minute adjustments

I’m also curious about rotating team leads, eg as part of the Engineer Manager Pendulum, but I don’t have experience with that yet.

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