Why Executive Leadership in Cannabis Needs to Change

In the standard business structure, change and decision-making usually rests at the C-level and instructions flow down through management and then on to the employees. The relationships built in the office are often tentative or transactional meaning you speak with people semi-regularly for lunch/coffee or to accomplish specific business objectives. But, the best product, service or innovative business plan won’t be a success story if there aren’t great people behind the company driving the force.


Unfortunately, there’s a bigger global force that have and will continue to reshape the workplace, the workforce and the work itself. In fact, according to research on executive leadership, Brandon Hall discovered:

  • 91% plan to stay at their current job fewer than 3 years which might be why 84% of organizations anticipate a shortfall of leaders within the next 5 years (this study is 5 years old),
  • 55% of organizations say their top priority is closing leadership skills gaps but, only 5% have fully implemented programs to do so,
  • And, only 8% of organizations spend more than $10,000 per person per year for leadership development yet 71% of companies do not feel their leaders are able to lead their organization.


When we look at workplace, the most popular entity is a corporate structure. It’s what lead to all the Blue and White collar jobs that were booming throughout the American Industrial Revolution back in the 1980’s. But, when the stock market crashed in 1929, Americans had a very different perspective of corporate governance. Today, the cannabis and hemp industry feel a bit like the American Industrial Revolution. There’s a lot of opportunity and booming jobs but, majority of the C-suite and executive leadership positions are filled by those who are in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.


populationThis is a problem because if we look at the workforce, millennial's are on schedule to outnumber baby boomers this year. And, for our generation, getting a Blue collar job or climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t our idea of success. See, many of us graduated college and entered the job market in a historic recession caused by a deregulated financial industry that destroyed the job market and still leaves many of us questioning the foundations of society. Now, we like the idea of working remotely and not devoting our life to somebody else’s agenda. We don’t want to be governed or micro-managed by executives.


Instead, we care more about the balance and quality of life. 


As technology advances and our perception of time speeds up, each generation becomes a little bit more aware of reality.  And, today it’s not hard to see that the majority of the jobs that require manual labor are quickly being replaced by automation, robotics and machine learning. Because of this and other technology, we are the most connected yet, disengaged species on the planet.


This is a phenomenon that repeats itself every few years and allows the younger generation to develop a better or more efficient way of doing things, but we're always met with opposition from those who came before us.


It's causing internal friction and communication flow issues between employees and executives. It can also hurt a brands ability to connect and engage with their audience because every workers perception of the company is critical. They are just as much brand promoters as your customers are and if they don't have a good experience in the workplace then they're going to communicate that to others who could be potential prospects. Today, we have more workers who are reluctant to admit failure, fearful of asking others for help, unwilling to mention good ideas and just decide to randomly quit their jobs.


If everyone in the C-suite is responsible for the strategic direction, corporate culture, revenue and overall growth of the organization, then why are so many businesses closing shop, filing for bankruptcy, or merging with bigger players just to stay in the game? High employee churn rates can cost a company hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year and slow down the growth of your organization. When really all you need to do is start focusing on building moral and growth from the inside out. 




The problem most commonly starts once we accept a higher rank and title, we begin to think that we’re leading an organization instead of actually leading people. It’s almost as if we’ve completely forgotten how to communicate and build authentic relationships with each other. In fact, we have. We’re so connected to technology that the minute you pick up the phone in front of someone else they automatically become less important to us. We may not recognize it in the moment but that's reality and how the other person feels. No company picnic, work from home Friday or allowing people to bring their dogs into the office can compensate for that kind of emotional rejection. 


It's time we stop being in charge and start taking care of those in our charge.


Communicating effectively should give people a sense of belonging through the chain of leadership and to your workers. If you don't have an open-door policy where everyone feels safe, accepted and heard, then how can you expect your company to communicate it’s message effectively to prospects or the target market? How do you expect people to want to come work for you? Better yet, how do you expect it to grow and survive?


The entire organization should be aligned, unified and start from the top down. You can be more open, willing to hear ideas, and empathetic to other peoples emotions. Look at your workers as people who have lives and build them up to become religious followers of your organization. 


Think about how you can create a deep culture everyone would love and thrive in. Be leader who creates a fail-forward environment and let everyone make mistakes and support the through the process. When people are pushed outside their comfort zones amazing things happen. We grow and become better, more productive and motivated human beings. So, don't just be a lone shark, start nurturing everyone in the organization and treat them equally. Because if everyone is supporting each other for greater self-improvement and working towards the same mission or goal, then just imagine how much you could accelerate your company's growth and improve your bottom line.