Circles Helps a Director Flourish in Her New Role

Two years ago, Patricia was overwhelmed.

A promotion is usually an exciting milestone in a professional’s life. It’s an event to be celebrated, a change that boosts self-esteem and validates their hard work. But, as Patricia Sanchez Delicado can attest from her own experience, a promotion can also cause some major complications.

In 2011, Patricia took a job as a product owner with Teaming, an exciting philanthropic crowdfunding platform that raises funds for social causes through micro donations. Having a background in product management, and having worked mainly with online businesses, she was perfect for the role. Patricia was promoted to the position of director in 2015.

“I was excited about being responsible for some important decisions and having the opportunity to organize the team in a specific way,” she says.

However, while her promotion was a welcome step forward in her career, it also presented some unique and challenging difficulties. Six months before Patricia became director, one of the company’s sponsors reduced their annual donation. This budget cut meant Teaming had to let go of some of their employees.

“There was a bad atmosphere and motivation was low,” she says. “Every year, we have to renew the financial commitment with our sponsor, so it was very difficult to motivate the team in an unstable situation, especially after we downsized.”

In addition to this complicated environment within the company, Patricia was dealing with a transformation of her work identity and her level of responsibility.

“The promotion changed my position from colleague to boss,” she says. “That is not an easy change, even when you are as lucky as I was to have a great team with nice people. Additionally, I gained new responsibilities but I kept my product duties, so I had a lot more to deal with. I had, and still have, so many challenges to face.”

Patricia was feeling the stress that comes with a big professional upheaval. Eager to excel in her new position, she sought out a variety of learning materials to help her cope.

“I'm always trying new things to improve as a professional, as a woman, as a person,” she says. “I read a lot about management. I got some specific training and attended some interesting lectures about team management. I was doing my best but I needed advice and support that I couldn’t get from a book or an article.”

This desire for more substantial support led Patricia to join a circle six months ago. This, she tells us, is just what she was looking for.

“It's totally different,” she says. “A circle is more profound. It forces you—in a good sense—to ask yourself questions and make personal commitments.”

Patricia’s circle is a collection of Spanish Team Leaders. They come together on a bi-monthly basis to share goals, struggles, and help each other develop professionally. Patricia says their meetings have encouraged her to be more internally reflective.

“The most important change is that I've started to ask myself questions again,” she says. “Maybe it sounds strange, but when you are a leader, sometimes you forget to ask yourself things like; How do I feel? What do I want? What do I need to change?”

In the circle, the members not only provide each other with tangible tools and strategies that can be used in management, but they also support each other emotionally.

“It is a good feeling when you realize that there are other people in the world with your same problems and worries,” she says. “It helps you discover yourself and motivates you to keep improving as a professional and as a human being.”

Patricia remembers a specific instance when her Circles group completely revolutionized her outlook. An uncomfortable meeting with a colleague had left her feeling insecure and uncomfortable.

“I didn't feel proud of myself,” she remembers. “In the circle, they helped me to organize those feelings, to understand what happened and put all the ideas in order. They completely changed my perspective and my attitude. I started the circle in a very bad mood. I had felt miserable for two days and I felt totally different at the end, more self-confident, and I had the tools to face the same situation in the future.”

Patricia says that circles hasn’t only made her a better leader, but it’s also made her a better person. She feels these outcomes were only reached through the shared experience of her circle.

“We all need help,” she says. “The richest knowledge you will ever get, you will find in other people.”