Leading through a crisis situation like the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging in all industries, and the cannabis industry is no exception. From effectively meeting customers’ needs and generating revenue to keeping employees motivated, effective leadership is critical to keeping a cannabis business or ancillary business afloat.
To be an effective leader during times of uncertainty and change, you need to lead by example, communicate often, and take risks. There is no roadmap to follow when the economy shuts down. However, it’s up to you to lead your team and your business through any crisis. By focusing on innovation, motivation, and emotional intelligence, you’ll be well-positioned to do it successfully.
Prioritize Innovation over the Status Quo
What your cannabis business has been doing is unlikely to continue working during a crisis. Being agile is the new norm and being able to pivot as changes occur is crucial to surviving – and even thriving – during any crisis, including a global pandemic like coronavirus.
Consider how some cannabis dispensaries and retailers changed their services as a result of COVID-19. Some quickly started providing virtual budtender or health counselor consultations to consumers while others began offering online ordering and curb-side pickup. Speed of response was crucial to minimize the negative effects of the crisis.
When a crisis hits, innovation wins. To that end, look for new opportunities to deliver products and services to consumers to meet their shifting needs and solve their evolving problems.
Now is the time to put together an action plan. Whether you’re still navigating the effects of COVID-19 or you’ve already gotten over the hurdles it presented to your business, one thing is certain. This won’t be the last crisis your business faces. As the leader, it’s up to you to lead the charge toward an uncertain future and what will become the future normal.
Be a Motivator
As a leader, you can motivate your employees by giving them a reason to want to work. It’s natural for employees to become unmotivated, especially during a crisis when things change continually. Most people dislike change.
To motivate your employees, you need to understand intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In simplest terms, there are both internal motivators (referred to as intrinsic motivation, which is driven by an interest and exists within an individual) and external motivators (referred to as extrinsic motivation, which comes from the outside of an individual). You need to motivate your employees both intrinsically and extrinsically.
At the highest-level, people are intrinsically motivated when they feel like what they’re doing is meaningful, when they feel like they have a choice, when they feel competent, and when they can see that they’re making progress.
On the other hand, people feel extrinsically motivated by rewards. For businesses, rewards systems can be very helpful in motivating employees but only when the rewards are meaningful to them. As a leader, it’s up to you to understand what extrinsic rewards will motivate your employees. Communication is key to developing a rewards program that actually works during a crisis.
Exercise Emotional Intelligence
Leaders with high emotional intelligence (EQ) can effectively manage themselves and their relationships with others. They can also effectively manage stress and socialize with other people. The best leaders have high cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence.
There are four elements to emotional intelligence:
- Self-awareness: You accurately understand and recognize yourself (self-confidence).
- Self-management: You understand your environment and regulate your behavior appropriately (self-control).
- Social awareness: You understand and recognize other people’s emotions and your environment (empathy).
- Social skills: You understand how to communicate and regulate your communication appropriately (influence).
According to emotional intelligence theory, the more a person is in control of and manages each of these four elements, the higher their emotional intelligence is.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence listen first, seek input, and offer advice. They keep open lines of communication and seek advice and feedback. They recognize how events can affect their emotions and decision-making. They can pick up on the mood in a room and show other people that they care about them.
Leaders with low emotional intelligence have low impulse control and react by sounding off first. They get defensive when they’re questioned or challenged and deny or ignore how events impact their emotions and decision-making. They also ignore other people when they’re stressed, frustrated, or overwhelmed. They focus on their tasks and ignore people or the larger context, and they’re oblivious to tension or the mood in a room.
To be an effective leader for your cannabis business, you need to improve your emotional intelligence so you can positively engage, influence, and inspire. Leaders with high emotional intelligence have the most satisfied and motivated employees.
The good news is the cannabis industry is no stranger to change. It could be said that leaders in this industry are better positioned to survive and thrive during and after a crisis simply because change is the norm for them.
However, the true winners will be the companies with leaders who prioritize innovation, positively motivate their teams, and have the emotional intelligence to successfully navigate change from whatever direction it comes.