The ability to self-organise is posited to be a fundamental requirement for successful agile teams. In particular, self-organising teams are said to be crucial in agile globally distributed software development (AGSD) settings, where distance exacerbates team issues. We used contextual analysis to study the specific interaction behaviours and enacted roles of practitioners working in multiple AGSD teams. Our results show that the teams studied were extremely task focussed, and those who occupied team lead or programmer roles were central to their teams’ self-organisation. These findings have implications for AGSD teams, and particularly for instances when programmers – or those occupying similar non-leadership positions – may not be willing to accept such responsibilities. We discuss the implications of our findings for information system development (ISD) practice.