Leading and Leadership in the Cannabis Industry

Date February 7, 2024
Authors Michael B. Ross

In today’s business landscape, no companies face greater leadership challenges than canna-businesses. The plethora of challenges include:

  • Regulatory costs that restrict an owner’s ability to invest in expanding their business
  • Navigating financial constraints and accessing traditional banking services remains a struggle due to the industry’s historical stigma
  • Product quality and safety standards relative to testing and compliance
  • Competing with the illicit market for customers
  • Pressure to stay ahead of trends while fostering innovation
  • Building a diverse and skilled workforce as the industry grows, necessitating effective talent acquisition and development strategies

The scope of these challenges is unique to canna-businesses. But regardless of the industry, strong leaders who face challenges lead through them, not around them. They choose to grow when others wait for challenges to pass. And they choose to venture into new territories while others settle. Every challenge offers an opportunity to gain an edge in the market.

Leadership fundamentals

Leadership is a multidisciplinary skill requiring strict intentionality in the fundamentals of purpose, vision, and disciplines.

  • Purpose: Purpose is the reason for your organization’s existence. You started your business for a specific reason. It is important that you can clearly articulate that to your team. Purpose precedes passion. The more you focus on fulfilling your purpose, the more passionate you and your team will become.
  • Vision: Vision is your preferred future. It is where you are going. It includes goals for revenue and profit, and goals for your culture in how you want your team to think, behave, and communicate. It includes ideas for expansion to new locations or products. And without it, you are lost; you have to know where you want to go. Additionally, your vision is the greatest unifying force for your team. Without it, people become listless and careless.
  • Disciplines: Establishing a clear purpose and vision is essential, but discipline is where results happen. Your disciplines include behaviors, technical competencies, financial reporting, communication, systems, processes, accountability, content management, deadlines, expectations, standards, relationships, conflict management, self-leadership, and focus. The most disciplined organizations grow the fastest. This means there can be no blaming, complaining, deflections, or excuses. There must be clear ownership, also a discipline, if an organization wants success.
  • Make sure you spend the proper amount of time clarifying your purpose and vision, then take even more time to map out and establish the disciplines necessary to fulfill your purpose and vision.

Disciplines to develop

We recommended the following three disciplines for canna-business owners, operators, and entrepreneurs to develop in order to thrive in the cannabis industry.

  • Improve your business systems: Systems run businesses and people run systems. To lead effectively, leaders must embrace a holistic perspective and cultivate systems-based thinking. Canna-business systems include mediums for communication, workflow, cultivation processes, inventory management, and many more. You must be intentional in ensuring your systems are putting you in the best position to succeed. Human beings live 95 percent of their lives in subconscious habits. Systems are your business’s habits. The better they are, the better the results.
  • Develop your people: Your staff is your greatest asset. No business can grow unless their people grow from the inside out. You must consistently guide your team and improve their technical expertise and skills. The more proficient people are in those two areas, the more trust and empowerment takes place. Many businesses spend countless amounts of time, energy, and resources developing systems, which is essential. But elite businesses spend an equal amount of time, energy, and resources developing people.
  • Take action: Too often, people allow fear to keep them in a state of paralysis. You must fight this tendency and make fear your ally. Default to taking action. Do not worry about making mistakes; you are human and you will make them. Instead, develop the resolve that no matter what happens, and no matter what mistakes are made, you will keep moving forward. You will take action when others are in paralysis. You will push yourself to be your very best. Action is the default of true leaders, regardless of industry, and regardless of challenges.
  • As a cann-business you face more challenges than most owner-entrepreneurs. This should excite you. Remember that nothing worth having comes without adversity.

Also remember that you are not alone. We’re here to help. If you would like assistance in articulating your purpose and vision, reach out for a consultation. We have ideas, tools, and resources that can help you accelerate your success by improving your leadership skills.

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