The following is adapted from Breaking the Stigma.
by Charlena Berry
In my corporate career, I’ve crossed paths with a lot of different leaders. Some of them were exceptional: masters at defining the goal, problem solving, coaching for success, and driving accountability. I achieved more than I ever thought possible with leaders like that.
I’ve also seen my share of bad leadership. In fact, a poor leader is a big part of why I began to question remaining in the corporate world. While this individual drove results, with his domineering, almost belittling leadership style, I shriveled up around him.
I am sure that you have had your own experiences with both good and bad leaders. Take a minute to really think back on the impact those individuals had on you, the team, and the company. Now ask yourself, what kind of leader do you want to be?
The way I see it, leadership is like creating a national park. You have all this beautiful wilderness and raw potential around you, and as the leader, you set the trajectory, paving a way through. Bad leaders will either bulldoze straight ahead, which may be efficient but destroys the natural beauty of the wilderness, or they’ll carve a challenging, strenuous path, not caring who they leave behind.
Great leaders, on the other hand, understand that the best path isn’t always straight. The leader’s job is to establish a clear direction and remove obstacles so that the team can walk the path easily while experiencing all the beauty the wilderness has to offer. That means sometimes your path will need to curve and wind, or you may need to create multiple paths to fit the needs of different people. The end result is gorgeous vistas and views that take the breath away.
Leadership like this is hard work, but the payoff is huge, especially for those of us who have our own cannabis-based businesses. If you are in the cannabis industry and you want to increase revenue, attract more customers, or improve literally any aspect of your store, leadership—particularly these five big-picture strategies—is where you start.
The first strategy is building personal connections. Leadership is ultimately all about people. A leader is nothing without followers, and if you want people to follow you, you have to treat them like—get this—people.
No one is going to give you their all if they don’t feel some kind of connection with you. Try to approach everyone with fundamental kindness, and work to build real relationships with your team.
When you prioritize human connection, you build trust and respect. If you show your team you care about them, they’ll care about you too. Plus, the more you understand who someone is—their beliefs, values, and goals—the better you’ll know how to motivate them.
Along with personal connections, the best leaders are also curious. A big part of a leader’s job is making decisions, which means your brand and store are largely limited by your own imagination. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel with every choice you make, but you do want to remain curious and open to new ideas and possibilities.
For this reason, the best leaders are always asking questions. Why has a certain team member’s performance dropped? What could we be doing differently? Why aren’t we doing x? What if we stopped doing y?
I get it: it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of running your business. I’ve been there myself. But, no matter how busy you get, remember to prioritize being curious.
Whether you’re the CEO or the store manager, as a leader, you are in a position of power. How you use that power determines whether you’ll be a good leader or a bad one. Bad leaders hold on to their power; good leaders give it away, empowering their team.
Remember that nothing great is accomplished alone. As the leader, it’s your job to bring your team members along with you. Your success is measured not by your individual accomplishments, but by your team’s.
Micromanagement sucks, and we all know it. It sucks for the people being micromanaged, and it sucks to be the leader doing the micromanaging. The more you empower your team, the more time you’ll free up to focus on those tasks only you can do. Plus, the more ownership your team members feel for their work, the more invested they’ll be. So provide the tools and information your team needs, then get out of the way and let your employees do their jobs.
Earlier, I asked you to think about some of the good leaders you’ve had. I’m going to take a not-so-wild guess here and say that the best leaders you’ve had, the ones you appreciate the most, helped you grow in some way.
What separates average leaders from truly great leaders is that they don’t just see their team member’s current abilities, but their potential. We’re all works in progress.
If you want your company to keep growing, you want your people to keep growing too. So as a leader, make the development of your people a priority.
Finally, remember: great leaders inspire people. There are two levels to how you must inspire your team. First, you must make each individual believe in themselves, which is done through empowerment and development. Second, you must make them believe in the importance of their work, by giving them the why behind it.
Some whys are fairly tangible: increased sales revenue, improved customer loyalty, better store reviews. Other whys are more intangible: improving the collective health of your customer base, providing education and spreading awareness of mental health issues, giving back to the community.
Both whys serve a role. The tangible whys give you goals to work toward, while the intangible whys reveal the deeper mission behind the company, the purpose that makes the work feel meaningful.
In every company, regardless of industry, leaders have incredible influence. Good leaders make a company, and bad leaders break it. Particularly in the cannabis space, though, leadership is crucial.
Our industry is still new, and we don’t have best practices or history to draw on. That can be a weakness, but also a strength. It means that, as leaders, we get to build our companies and this industry from the ground up, exactly how we want. It’s an exciting position to be in.
Your leadership will determine how far your company goes. So, keep these five big-picture strategies front and center, and you’ll be well on the way to becoming the greatest leader you can be.
For more advice on how to lead your cannabis-based business to success, you can find Breaking the Stigma on Amazon.
Charlena Berry founded Cannabis Business Growth after spending more than a decade in Supply Chain and Retail Operations for Fortune 500 companies like Whirlpool and Office Depot/Office Max. A global cannabis business executive and the company’s principal consultant, Charlena forms strategic partnerships, guides entrepreneurs, and leads projects in all sectors of the cannabis industry, from cultivation and manufacturing to commercial retail and distribution. A witness to the impact of addiction and the illicit market, Charlena is a proud advocate for cannabis and its potential for healing and personal growth.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
By Griffen Thorne, Attorney at Harris Sliwoski Cannabis real estate transactions can be notoriously complicated – much more so than your average real estate deal. On January 9, 2024, I’ll…
Under current law, it’s legal in Virginia to possess small amounts of marijuana, but you can’t buy it or sell it. In the wake of the Democrats’ victory in last…
As the industry waves goodbye to 2023 and the “tough times” that characterized it for so many cannabis companies, we are starting to receive predictions about what to expect in…
By Vince Śliwowski, Managing Partner, Harris Sliwoski I stumbled upon this recent post by Jason Paltrowitz titled “Lawful but Awful: The Small Cap IPO Cycle.” It contains some interesting findings…