CIRCLE develops the capacity of professional women and entrepreneurs to exercise leadership in new and courageous ways. We draw on the specific and unique leadership challenges that women face in order to facilitate the process of innovative change and transformation. We find that women tend to communicate their challenges especially well, enabling them to more quickly generate impact. To create systemic shifts, we engage with a variety of stakeholders to pace the work.
We build upon two powerful and proven methodologies: adaptive leadership, developed at Harvard, and the psychodynamic-systemic approach to coaching out of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Centre.
Psychodynamic coaching is an approach to executive coaching for individuals, teams, and organizations that focuses on less obvious factors that contribute to complex interpersonal and group behaviors. Our leadership and coaching models work hand in hand to get at the heart of what it takes for developmental and cultural change at a deeper level.
The Middle East, South Asia, North America, Europe. These are the diverse regions of CIRCLE’s founders and part of what distinguishes us from other firms.
We come from radically different backgrounds: a Pakistani social entrepreneur, a European coaching professional, and an American leadership-learning specialist. Together we bring 40 years of cross-sector leadership development experience to our work. Not only do we develop the global cultural competence essential to successful businesses, we represent it.
Sadaffe Abid is the founder of CIRCLE Women Association, a leading social enterprise that aims to build and develop the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity of women in Pakistan.
She brought She Loves Tech to Pakistan, now the world’s largest women and startup competition globally. Sadaffe was a founding team member, COO and later CEO of Kashf Foundation, a Forbes 50 global MFI that had 3oo,000 clients and disbursed USD 200M loans to women clients in Pakistan. Under her leadership, Kashf received several awards including the AGFUND International Prize for Miceocredit.
Sadaffe is INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence. She is on the board of Pakistan Microfinance Network, UN Women Pakistan Civil Society Advisory Council and Indus Earth. She is also an adviser to Dell Women Entrepreneurship Network (DWEN).
She completed her Masters at the Harvard Kennedy School, Advanced Management Program at INSEAD and her B.A. at Mount Holyoke College. She is a recipient of the Mount Holyoke Alumni Achievement Award. Her work at Kashf has been highlighted in Nicholas Kristoff’s, Half the Sky and Isobel Coleman’s, Paradise beneath her feet.
Kelly brings adaptive leadership to organizations through innovative learning design, curriculum strategy, and case-in-point facilitation. Her career began at Amnesty International where she co-led a global media campaign distributing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to 15 countries and in 18 languages. Kelly was an editor for two presidents of Harvard University and for Leadership On the Line by Heifetz and Linsky. She was also a teaching fellow at two of Harvard’s graduate schools. Kelly has… More
Oriane Kets de Vries
Oriane is the Managing Director of the Kets de Vries Institute (KDVI) where she implements leadership programs for top executive teams. She is also a practicing, certified coach providing individual and group coaching for executives in an organizational context and individually. Her clients include INSEAD, CEDEP, ESCP, ESMT, the Cambridge Judge School of Business, and Oxford Saïd Business School. More
Our approach investigates the self and the systems we operate in: organizations, families, cultures, teams. We engage participants in deepening self-knowledge, developing relational awareness, and diagnosing self-limiting mindsets that no longer serve a purpose. We elicit strategies for women to intervene successfully around purposes they care about and in challenging circumstances. As women continue to take up authority, we enable them to dramatically expand their influence. We address the foremost barriers to women so they can better:
Navigate Uncertainty – Take Up Authority – Utilize Conflict – Define a Leadership Identity –
Advocate for Self – Undertake Smart Experiments – Develop Resilience
The CIRCLE Story
Our venture grew out of in-person conversations at Harvard followed by video calls of our trio – who became the CIRCLE founders – between Asheville, London, and Dubai. The simple agenda was to further explore our personal and professional leadership challenges. The first question we asked ourselves was the one asked of us in a large adaptive learning environment. “Where do we begin?”
We began with another question: What brings us to the cause of women’s leadership? At our most personal, we identified these reasons, in the order they arose:
- Experiencing women as effective role models
- Being a mother of girls
- Opportunities for women’s education, entrepreneurship, and autonomy
- Our relationships with paternal authority
- Finding our voices
- Gaining confidence over self-doubt
- Authorizing ourselves to speak
Soon we initiated a listening tour to hear from men and women around the world about the unique challenges and capacities of women. We found common threads rose over and over again and we began to name and address them. Today we continue to mentor multiple circles of women around the world and reunite regularly to teach, experiment, coach, and inspire. We invite you to contribute to the CIRCLE story through a short survey.
Why the Name CIRCLE?
Women engaged in trusted, strategic circles achieve more both individually and collaboratively. The circle is a timeless, multicultural, and universal image whose boundaries and bonds can be both firm and fluid. Circles are dynamic: they can enlarge, overlap, and be both local and global. Circles come together around a challenge, a discussion, a story, or simply a table or set of chairs. Circles place the topic and the work at the center. They can be drawn simply and by anyone. Circles protect and secure people from danger. Like the sun and the globe, they symbolize potential.
Our logo represents the spectrum of change between shades of red and green. Red slows us down in order to reflect on and stop maladaptive behaviors or beliefs. At the same time, red is a color of power. The movement to green connotes the nature of newness, growth, and action.