Connection as a Mode of Learning: White Paper on the Global Leadership League’s Mentoring & Career Connections programs
The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purpose of advancing leadership skills, knowledge, and connections. The organization has since expanded and now serves all genders and all professional levels across the globe.
Since its founding in 2017, The League has offered programming and content geared toward the professional interests of the organization’s growing membership base. To serve the needs of its members, The League learned that professionals desire a more personal approach to solving workplace challenges where they could discuss openly with others who have similar experiences to gain useful and relevant insights. To best facilitate these conversations among professionals, The League created the Mentoring Circles and Career Connections programs for members to connect with one another in a virtual format. To date, these programs have been very successful and many members sign up a few times each year.
In conjunction with The League’s recent five year anniversary, the Mentoring and Career Connections team aimed to understand the impact of each of these programs (two of the League’s most popular) on current and former participants.
Both the Mentoring Circles and Career Connections programs focus on facilitating professional development and growth opportunities by connecting League members with one another in a collaborative learning environment.
The Mentoring Circles program matches 3-5 members in a group format, to meet over the course of a few months while focusing on a specific professional topic, guided by an accompanying workbook complete with a series of content and prompts.
The Career Connections program matches members in a one-on-one pairing, where one participant seeks guidance on a specific goal or professional objective, while the other participant practices their leadership and mentoring skills.
With hundreds of League members having participated in one or both of these programs since the League was established, we wanted to gain more insight into each program’s impact on members, with a focus on connection as a mode of learning (e.g. how personal connection can be used as a method for growth and development). The following narrative highlights the diverse voices and perspectives of our members.
Survey data found that both the Mentoring Circles and Career Connections programs offer a significant opportunity for networking. League members enjoyed each program’s ability to connect them with peers or with professionals of different experience levels, across institutions, countries and continents. One respondent appreciated the ability to develop:
“Genuine, lasting connections with colleagues across the field, and across the globe”.
Underscoring the opportunity for networking was a recognition of the importance of interpersonal relationships in the field of International/ Higher Education,” with members sharing:
“So much of the attraction of being in this field is the people who comprise it. It's a wonderful, welcoming, intelligent, open community, and being connected to more people reinforces my motivation to stay here.”
“I came away from my mentoring circle with colleagues who have turned into long-term professional contacts and with whom I've worked to build partnerships between our institutions, based on the relationships we developed in the circle!”.
Beyond creating valuable networking opportunities and connections between International/ Higher Education professionals, participants also found that the program enabled them to encounter different points of view and an opportunity to expand their perspectives on the breadth of the field and opportunities for growth within the field. Highlights of member feedback are shared below:
“The mentoring circle really helped me to expand my understanding of all of the diverse options available within IE.”
“Seeking out different views on a subject matter and hearing how others interpret or approach the material provided in the workbooks, helped us connect with one another and network. The mentoring circles have been great for professional development outside of my organization.”
Many respondents appreciated that the programs create a safe and intentional space to connect with others, with time set aside for structured reflection/ introspection on career-related topics. Members shared some of the following comments:
“It is helpful to hear from other colleagues that they are going through similar feelings even if our circumstances are different. The guidance of the topics helped to get the conversations started and allowed us all to open up.”
“It was validating and cathartic to talk through our topic with peers from the field. It broadened my perspective, because we all had very different personal life and family situations, and it was interesting how much we all struggled with similar challenges regardless of that.”
Finally, as the Mentoring and Career Connections programs aim to facilitate guided learning experiences in both peer-to-peer and mentor-mentee formats– respondents confirmed their appreciation for the built-in mentoring and support for navigating career goals and challenges. The following feedback highlights the strength of mentoring opportunities:
“The idea of networking with people at different experience levels was helpful. I can be shy sometimes about engaging with more established professionals, but this put us together for a set period of time, and we all embraced the opportunity.”
“The career connections program helped me ask for a mentor in a formal way, which felt much more comfortable than asking a colleague.”
“Participating as a Guide in the Career Connections program has been extremely rewarding. I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with colleagues to help them negotiate next steps in their careers and I found that sharing our stories was even therapeutic. The program compelled me to be "on my game" and to show up fully present when anticipating our meetings. It was and is important for me to feel like the time spent together was/is worthwhile and helpful.”
“The program strengthened my belief in my mentoring skills.”
As the Global Leadership League reflects on a successful first five years, we are grateful for the enthusiastic participation of our members in the Mentoring Circles, the Career Connections program, and other League offerings. Looking ahead, we are excited to continue to serve our growing membership base by expanding upon these opportunities to connect, learn and grow! More information about League programs and events is available on our website (https://globalleadershipleague.com).