6 Leadership Qualities Cannabis Companies Are Looking For Right Now in an Executive

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I predict the cannabis industry will add another 100,000 jobs to the economy this year, meaning there could be more than 520,000 full-time jobs by early 2023. That’s right – there are officially more cannabis workers in the United States than electrical engineers, architects, or computer programmers.

But because the industry has evolved so rapidly compared to more mainstream businesses, there isn’t necessarily a large pool of experienced, qualified workers for cannabis companies, especially when it comes to the C-suite. 

If you’re considering a transition to the cannabis industry, there’s never been a better time than now. Cannabis companies are looking for leadership with unique qualities and skills to help their businesses thrive in an ultra-competitive landscape. Here are the top traits cannabis companies are looking for in their executives. 

Related: These Are the Skills That Will Get You a Job In the Cannabis Industry

1. Adaptability 

Cannabis executives need to adjust to new conditions and modify plans. Rules, regulations, and best practices are changing as legalization continues to spread (in fact, they are really still in the process of being built.) The ability to pivot and adapt to new changes in the marketplace is critical, whether to a new legal regulation in your state or a revolutionary new product in the market. Your strategy is likely to change often and quickly, and leaders should always consider the adjustments they can make to help their businesses reach the next level of success.

2. Good decision-making

Confidence goes a long way. Executives need to make firm decisions with conviction to capitalize on opportunities as they arise and drive the business forward. Hesitation and second-guessing will only hurt your progress in the competitive landscape of cannabis. You won’t be right all of the time, and you don’t need to be – not being afraid to make mistakes and dive headfirst into something new is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. But leaders should always consider the big picture impact and ramifications of every decision they make. Leaders with a growth mindset view mistakes as opportunities to learn, and pivot to continue forward. 

3. Innovative mindset

Innovation isn’t just for products and technology – the strongest leaders in the cannabis space can look at problems in a new way or find unique solutions to existing challenges. Model cannabis executives are creative problem solvers that see challenges as opportunities to grow. It will always be more beneficial and profitable to be an innovator rather than a follower. Great cannabis leaders know how to take inspiration from related industries and perform the cannabis equivalent – or better. Keep tabs on your most innovative and creative employees – those who are consistently coming up with solutions to problems and thinking of inventive new ways to elevate the company. These skills are in high demand!

4. Mentorship oriented

The strongest cannabis teams are in sync from the executive level down to the entry-level roles. Effective cannabis executives guide their employees, giving them the tools, trust, and confidence they need to make intelligent business decisions without hindering the entire team’s potential. Coaching and mentoring will get your team much further than dictating or commanding. As an executive, you should be open to ideas. Listen to and support your team while fostering a collaborative environment. Emphasize your company culture and company values, and focus on nurturing existing talent within the company.

5. Empathetic 

The most prosperous cannabis executives can build authentic, positive relationships with employees and clients. Understanding cannabis culture and the importance of creating a healthy company culture invites knowledge sharing and teamwork. Relationship-oriented leaders typically find that employees are more open, trusting, and motivated to go the extra mile. Understanding common employee issues like burnout or recognition will help employees feel more supported in their professional roles. To build genuine connections, show appreciation and trust, learning to listen attentively. In addition, understanding your customers’ needs and connecting with your target audience is invaluable in the cannabis industry, an industry built on camaraderie. Building positive relationships with your clients keeps them in the loyalty loop, which means your company will be top of mind when your services are needed. 

5. Proven success

With the relative infancy of the cannabis industry, a cannabis-related degree or even specific cannabis experience isn’t necessarily required to land an executive role in the space. While leading companies may be more likely to consider your resume with cannabis-specific experience, strong expertise and relevant experience in a related industry can be just as powerful. Cannabis businesses are increasingly recruiting executive talent from other regulated, consumer-facing sectors like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and retail. Proven success in different fast-paced, often unpredictable environments can be highly transferable to the cannabis industry

Exceptional leadership is the difference between sustained success and struggling to keep up in the evolving cannabis industry. Being a cannabis executive is no easy feat and means pushing individual status and success aside to work toward the larger well-being and good of the company. 


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