Getting Started
YOUR CIRCLE, YOUR WAY

While there’s no right or wrong way to run a Circle, we’ve captured some of Lean In’s most important recommendations here to set you up for success. For more detail, check out the full PDF handout About Circles: What They Are and How to Start Your Own.

1. Review shared values

It’s helpful for Circles to have shared values so members know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from everyone else. We call these Circle Fundamentals:

  • Confidentiality: Trust is critical. What happens in your Circle should stay in your Circle.
  • Communication: Commit to share openly and honestly—and to listen with empathy.
  • Commitment: Everyone should be invested in your Circle’s success and be fully present at meetings.

2. Set shared goals for your Circle

Shared goals will help your Circle choose relevant topics for discussion, measure the success of your meetings, and stay on track as a group. Have each member write down her top three personal goals and then identify the most common answers across your group.


3. Decide on a moderator approach

Circle meetings run best when a moderator plans the agenda and guides the discussion. Being a moderator takes work, but we also hear from moderators that it’s deeply rewarding and it helps them build—and get recognized for—their leadership skills. We’ve seen Circles approach moderation in a few different ways, and they all work:

  • A single moderator runs meetings for a set period of time
  • One Circle member plans meetings and another member facilitates meeting discussions
  • Everyone takes turns running meetings

Start a Circle on LeanIn.org

  1. Create a Circle profile and follow the steps to attract other members.
  2. Send us a note at Circles@leaninseattle.org so we can link your new Circle to the Lean In Seattle Chapter, which allows other local members to find you!

  3. Get the word out there! Let us know about your circle and we'll promote it on our Facebook pages and add it to the Join a Circle section on our website.

Text "STARTNOW" to 555888 to get weekly tips on starting your Circle.


Why Circle Fundamentals Matter

 

Confidentiality

Trust is critical. What happens in your Circle should stay in your Circle.

Why it matters: Members won’t want to share real issues if they don’t feel they can trust everyone in the Circle. We recommend you talk openly about the importance of confidentiality as a group and come up with a plan for dealing with a break in confidentiality before it’s an issue with real members and hurt feelings.


Communication

Commit to share openly and honestly—and to listen with empathy.

Why it matters: Research shows that sharing inspires more sharing. As you share with each other, you’ll feel more connected and better positioned to offer helpful insights and ideas. When you’re listening, it’s important to “listen to understand” (rather than “listen to respond”) and resist the urge to judge others’ choices and experiences.


Commitment

Everyone should be invested in your Circle’s success and be fully present at meetings.

Why it matters: The more everyone participates, the more you’ll all get out of your Circle. The expression “groups are only as strong as their weakest link” is true. We recommend that Circles meet ten times a year, and members remain active for a year.
 

 

Curious about what a Circle is?
Want to start a Circle?
Looking for members to join your Circle?

Join our quarterly Circle Kickoff events!


Still have questions?

We have Circle experts standing by to help you navigate your Circle experience. Send us a note at Circles@LeanInSeattle.org and we’ll help to move you and your Circle forward.