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They Led Their Teams to Become the No. 1 Company in America. Here’s What They’ve Learned About Leadership

As a first-time founder, Kabir Barday led his company to the No. 1 spot on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. When it comes to leadership, he says, he’s learning on the job.

“The biggest thing for me has been the people side of things,” says Barday, CEO of OneTrust, a¬†privacy-law-compliance technology company in Atlanta. “It requires a very intentional empathy and acknowledgment of people¬†in different situations.”

Barday spoke with Inc. editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk and Geetesh Goyal, co-founder of  from Human Bees, the staffing company that hit the No.1 spot on the 2021 Inc. 5000 list a year after OneTrust. They talked about their biggest leadership lessons in a session at the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference.

Goyal says he makes it a practice to tackle the least-glamorous jobs. Doing the grunt work, he says, wins the respect of your employees and helps with team morale.

“I try to¬†lead by example,” Goyal says.¬†“I’m happy to be admin, a janitor, I’ll do anything. It’s a cliche in today’s world, but man, it works, and it is real. If you can take that kind of responsibility upon yourself to do whatever needs to be done, no job is too big or too small,¬†that really makes things fly.”

Amid the pandemic, with offices across the globe, Barday¬†says he has had to pay¬†an equal amount of attention on¬†the health of employees as to¬†the operation of the business.¬†“And that’s both physical health, mental motivation, the alignment of communicating your goals and how people tie their individual objectives to their goals,” he says.

A big part of his leadership style is to make sure that employees have the opportunity to create projects of their own or share big ideas. “Building key features, not just doing bug fixing–that’s how we motivated the team and got¬†the ability to¬†hire top talent globally,” Barday says.

To stand out as a market leader, Barday says, many¬†investors advised him¬†to focus on doing one thing exceptionally well. But he says he’s found the opposite to be true and had no problem saying¬†that he had other plans.

“I said, ‘Absolutely not.’¬†This¬†is too big, and there’s too much opportunity, and we have to seize that opportunity as long as we’re executing well,” Barday¬†says. As long as there’s a solid plan in place, there’s no reason you can’t explore new ideas or be innovative. After all, he’s found that new industries and new products are often the fastest to grow.

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