KIND had grown from a team of dedicated, overworked generalists to a large, professional organization with specialists who had either come in from outside or had been groomed internally to grow in a focused area about which they're passionate. Case in point: Rodrigo Zuloaga, now the head of new product development, was our entire marketing department in the early days, as well as the person in charge of e-commerce and trademark law. Today those jobs are performed by more than 300 team members.
With that growth came an evolution in my role. Whereas I was once the leader, salesman, box packer, deliveryman and collections officer all at once, I now needed to retrench myself and empower my team to lead. My role, now that KIND has more than 600 team members, is to provide a vision, to nurture the culture. The best way for me to impact the company is to transmit our core values and way of thinking.
Indeed, before the trade show doors had even opened, I had gathered our team to rally everyone to live by our values. Some were longstanding team members; others were at their first day on the job.
"You have to treat every customer with the same energy and appreciation as if they are the largest customer in the country," I said. As much as our products "sell themselves," I encouraged the team to engage with every passerby and strive to educate them about our products.
To maintain our entrepreneurial spirit, we have to create a culture in which everyone remembers that every order, big or small — and every interaction, every moment — will define what our company is today and what it will become tomorrow. The moment you sit back as customers walk past your booth will haunt you five years from now when you realize, "That was the turning point when we took our first step toward mediocrity."
If you can inculcate in your team that every moment means everything, you can then step back to let them lead.
— By Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of KIND
This commentary was adapted from a chapter on leadership in Lubetzky's just-published book, "Do the KIND Thing: Think Boundlessly, Work Purposefully, Live Passionately." Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.
NOTE: This commentary was first published in April 2015 and has been republished with the author's permission.