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Ten Pieces of Advice from Harbinger on Co-Gendered Leadership

There are many examples of co-gendered duos achieving success by sharing the reigns. But only a few have over fifteen years of co-leading under their belt, like the dynamic duo heading up Harbinger, a marketing agency specializing in brands targeting women. We asked Deborah Adams, SVP and Managing Director, to offer ten pieces of expert, time-tested advice on the key habits and factors associated with a healthy and happy working relationship with her duo, Jeff Weiss, President of Harbinger.








BY Deborah Adams


#1. Learn to trust each other

Although I am not the owner of the business, Jeff trusts me to always make the right decision in the best interests of the company. Likewise, I trust Jeff to make the right decisions when it comes to my career and quality of life.


#2. Arguing, not fighting

We have never had a “fight” in the 23 years we have known each other. Sure, there have been disagreements and different points of view, but we have always listened to each other and come to an agreement on what is best for the business.


#3. Compromising doesn’t mean you are weak

We’re both rational adults and we can leave our respective egos “at the door” (although truth be told, this is sometimes more difficult for Jeff than it is for me).


#4. Honest, direct communication

The reality is that we’ve known each other for too long now to not know when each of us has something else to say. For those of you just beginning your co-gendered roles, remember to have no secrets and no hidden agendas.


#5. Recognize and utilize your unique talents

We’ve realized that we have very different—yet complimentary—talents that are unique to us. As The Crusader, Jeff is the visionary who can rally the team around a common goal, and myself, as the Pragmatist, I bring my inspired yet practical approach to any challenges or opportunities. Combined, we are able to bring vision and leadership to the company in a way that can be executed in a practical manner.


#6. Encourage growth and change

Every year, Jeff and I challenge ourselves and each other to take on new tasks, experiences, and roles that will grow the company as well as develop our own leadership skills. This often requires courage to try new things and it keeps both of us challenged and inspired.


#7. Share common goals and values

Like any strong and thriving relationship, we both strive to reach the same goals and we do so in a manner that fits with our personal values and those that we developed together for the entire organization. This keeps us grounded and ensures that we don’t go beyond the boundaries of what we are comfortable with.


#8. Mutual Respect

We acknowledge and value the different thinking and skill sets that we bring to our business and to the work we do for clients. While we may challenge each other on our respective viewpoints, we always value the thinking that each of us brings to the discussion.


#9. Have Fun!

Life’s too short not to have fun in whatever you are doing. Perspective is the key and we are constantly reminding each other of how lucky we are.


#10. Be Passionate

We share a passion for the work that we do, the people we work with, and the environment that we work in. We have created a culture that is a marriage of passion and purpose. This passion keeps us going and is the real reason why we come to work everyday.



Interested in co-gendered leadership? Check out how these top ten companies are advancing business–and learn from their success stories.