7 Leadership Tips for Cannabis Business Owners

cannabis business leadership | cannabis business owner

When you think of the terms “leader” or “leadership” you may immediately think of the CEO, President of a company, or a superior of some sort. We always hope people carrying these titles can also live up to the term “leader”, but that’s certainly not always the case. In fact, many people who are not in leadership positions have the traits of a leader but may never be put in a position to “lead” based on their title. If you’re a cannabis business owner, it’s important to become a leader, because the stakes are even higher than most other industries, and you may not be able to afford to fail. Let’s dive into the qualities that make for great cannabis business leadership.

Tip #1: Approach Relationships with Empathy

Let’s start with a quality that is often overlooked or placed at the bottom of the list when it comes to business leadership: Empathy. At its root, empathy is the capacity to feel or understand another’s experience from within their frame of reference. Leaders who have the ability to empathize and collaborate with members of their team to develop solutions catered to their needs, not only gain trust, respect, and loyalty but also retain hard-working employees. Humans are imperfect. Poor performance could be linked to a number of life events, health, or personal struggles. The best leaders make room for imperfection and develop solutions that will inevitably be best for the employee and the business in the long run.

Tip #2: Take Responsibility

It’s easy to point the finger and blame others for errors or mistakes, but it requires leadership qualities to take responsibility for the moments when teams fail. Taking responsibility means eliminating the blame games, and instead taking the time to address problems and develop a plan of action for correcting it. This is not to say that a repeat offender or an employee who constantly creates problems in the workplace should be let off the hook. Rather, a leader takes ownership of the problem and solution and actively works towards improving results by addressing situations at hand and understanding their role in the equation.

Tip #3: Communicate Effectively and Often

Communication (or lack thereof) has the ability to make or break a team. It’s necessary to communicate values, goals, plans of action, hurdles and potential challenges, routes of delegation, and expectations with clarity, calmness, and a positive demeanor. By doing so, you’ll keep all stakeholders on the same page and moving in the same direction. When there is a lack of communication it often results in chaos, confusion, redundancies in efforts, and an overall loss of time and productivity.

Tip #4: Trust the Team (and Receive Trust in Return)

Have you ever experienced the frustration and stress of working with a micromanager? Oftentimes those in superior roles don’t understand how defeating it can feel to have the hot breath of a manager on their neck while trying to complete a task – or how liberating and exciting it can feel to have the freedom to work creatively with the confidence that they will complete the task – and well! Having the trust of a leader also encourages trust in return. If you’ve hired the right people, they will have solutions, ideas, and methods that – if harnessed – could lead to big things for your business. Getting to that place of sharing those ideas all starts with trust.

Tip #5: Recognize and Reward a Job Well Done

Simply put, recognition is a powerful tool for inspiration. When team members feel valued, recognized, and rewarded, they tap into creativity, work harder, and stay with the company longer. This is crucial at all times, but even more so when you or your business is asking the employees for more than what standard hours or responsibilities may be. The feeling of value is underestimated by many superiors but should be a normal practice.

Tip #6: Spot the Bad Apple and Save the Team

Sometimes, a team can have a spoiler. It’s the one person who may be great (or not so great) at their job, but ruins team morale, causes drama in the workplace, has a bad attitude or doesn’t fit the company culture/values. A great leader is willing to spot these bad apples and first, listens to the feedback or morale of the individual and group (remember: empathy); second, takes the time to encourage a change; and third, is willing to remove this person before other team members choose to leave. A great leader understands the importance of an employee’s impact on the team, regardless of sales numbers, high performance, or their ability to execute their responsibilities. Your team will be grateful for the commitment to a great team environment and productivity will increase when time isn’t being spent on the bad apple.

Tip # 7: Considers Cuts from Other Areas before Personnel Layoffs

Let’s face it, running a cannabis company is expensive and can be extremely challenging. One thing that has become normal practice in an effort to save money is massive layoffs. Skilled workers already have enough challenges within the cannabis industry. Putting the fear of layoffs on top of those challenges can be enough to make one of those workers choose a role with more stability. If possible, make cuts to other costs first before cutting your valued employees. It will speak volumes to who you are as a leader and trusted ally.

Cannabis Business Leadership

Interested in more cannabis business leadership tips or just want the chance to network with those who’ve paved the way before you? Join us for a CannaCon event in your area and you’ll have all of the above, plus plenty of opportunities to check out all of the latest and greatest in the cannabis industry.


  1. Alex williams on September 18, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Great read and valid points. Still to this day theres a lot of 420 leaders that struggle or need a little help elevating to the next level.

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