February 6, 2023

Kel & Partners Public Relations and Social Media Agency Core Values: K&P Core Values: Co-Leadership

What kind of leaders promote “bottom up” decision making? Good ones. Like ours. We know that to win big, we need a team that is at once leaderless and leaderful.

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Tell us your CEO is a millennial without saying they’re a millennial.

From the time we are born, the idea of hierarchies is engrained in our collective psyche. We see these structures within our families, in our parents’ professional lives, at school, and finally – in the workplaces we enter. 

Our entire lives, we’re taught to get used to and comfortable with hierarchical structures running every aspect of our lives. 

From parents to teachers and coaches and eventually to our bosses, because I said so, becomes an all too familiar rationale that seems perfectly reasonable to us because these are the hierarchical structures we are taught to know and obey.

What if there were an alternative?  I first discovered the principles of CoLe when I read a book about the practice of mutual aid. Mutual aid is designed to build a more equitable society in which everyone has similar access to the right things and it’s not just certain people with access to resources that can benefit everyone. 

As I was reading the book, I thought to myself, how cool it would be to create an ecosystem like that at Kel & Partners. And so, we did. At Kel & Partners, we embrace the principles of co-leadership (CoLe). 

We believe that everyone should have a say in the decisions that affect them. We believe in honoring people’s different levels of experience and wisdom as valid and valued. We believe that acting bossy doesn’t make someone a boss. 

We believe that by acting together, we can cultivate a culture in which everyone cares about the whole team’s purpose, wellness and well-being – and feels pride in accountability and ownership as a co-leader.

For us, this is a process of learning and unlearning (two of our other core values), as well as a work in progress. 

To achieve CoLe, we need to redefine success; be less concerned about maintaining the facade of being the best; lose our my way or the highway attitudes; stop endlessly seeking validation and approval from those we perceive as better; and, stop over-controlling and micromanaging every little detail. 

Instead, we embrace growth through consensus decision making; are willing to admit mistakes; find out how others are doing, what they need and how we can support them; care about what every member of the team thinks and knows, regardless of title or tenure; and, delegate and ask for help, because we want more people’s participation, so that no one person is hoarding control.

We use Consensus Decision Making charts to provide clarity on team assignments, foster a high feedback culture, put forth a clear process for plan making, develop employee conflict/resolution skills, and emphasize a culture of trust, respect and, most importantly, space to fail – because it’s in that space that we learn our most important lessons and grow – both as individuals and as a team. 

We’ve worked really hard to build fair, transparent and participatory structures that make CoLe work and I’m so excited that learning and unlearning, and growing and embracing change, are so fundamental to who we are as a company. Here’s to embracing change in 2023, and beyond!

Julia McGovern - Chief Co-Leader of Kel & Partners, the anti-agency agency for public relations & social media.

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Kel & Partners is the anti-agency agency for public relations & social media. We craft and execute fresh strategies that increase full-spectrum awareness to help our clients achieve their overarching business goals. Our clients live & die based on their ability to get above the noise level. Our client-side DNA and radical transparency blend to create a kick-ass partnership with our clients.