By: Lisa Brancheau, League Outcomes Coordinator
Mentor Circles have long been a cornerstone of Global Leadership League programming. Groups of 3-4 professionals are matched to meet virtually once a month for four months while working through GLL-tailored content on a specific theme (Leadership, Negotiation, etc.). Reviewing participant feedback from the last three rounds of Mentor Circles, the Circles took on new meaning during the pandemic as one of the few remaining ways "to connect with other women and support each other in our ongoing journey as we way find," said one participant.
As the pandemic spread globally, working from home became the norm, and the in-person networking opportunities that conferences and meetups provide were no longer possible. Based on responses to the Mentor Circle evaluations before and during the pandemic, there was a 14% increase in how useful the participants found Mentor Circle conversations—especially having a safe, confidential space to discuss the changes going on in the world. "The strengths were connecting with other women who hold a variety of perspectives due to their diverse backgrounds. It was really helpful to hear their experiences navigating the global pandemic, and that component really made me feel like we formed a stronger bond than we would have during a typical networking event or program. I truly appreciate the opportunity," shared another participant in the anonymous evaluation.
The League also recorded a 12% increase in those who would recommend the Mentor Circle program to others. This is just one comment of many that highlighted the strength of Mentor Circles; that you can connect with people you may not otherwise meet, "I think the connections you make with others in the field that you may not have connected with otherwise is the greatest strength of the Mentor Circle program. Having a shared activity/assignment that prompts conversation makes the connection seem natural and have a purpose, which I really like."
The opportunity for reflection on a specific theme was another common benefit of participating in Mentor Circles. As noted by a participant, "...the topics of each Circle/meeting force you to think about it. There are many topics I've never spent time reflecting on before, and I appreciate that this encourages me to."
In a time of professional uncertainty for many in the field, one participant found the Mentor Circles "Very supportive and helped to get over the idea of imposter syndrome and feel empowered."
Over 60 league members participate in each round of Mentor Circles, selecting from a number of themes requested by league members [Negotiation, Blazing Your Career Trail, Leadership and Designing a Well-Lived Life]. In response to the global pandemic and participant feedback, an additional workbook was added in June on "Navigating Change and Uncertainty," which had the most participation of any other theme in its debut session. The Mentoring and Coaching committee continues to apply the feedback we receive from Mentor Circle participants. In 2021, the League will add another workbook on the theme of Management, thanks to recommendations shared in the Mentor Circle evaluation. The existing workbooks will also get a content refresh which is great for members who want to revisit a topic.
To learn more about our Mentor Circles, or to register for the next round, visit here.