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Top 10 Traits of Successful Cannabis Executives

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Effective leadership in the young cannabis industry is the difference between sustained success and struggling to keep up. Being a cannabis executive is an arduous job reserved for those who are willing to work for their team and the company’s well-being. To be a great CEO or leader for your cannabis business, you have to push individual status and success aside.

Leaders–whether they have a start-up business or multiple locations–inspire others to learn more, dream bigger, innovate, and grow. But how? We’ve created a list of the top leadership traits of successful cannabis executives, so you can refine your skills and evolve as the captain of your crew. So many cannabis companies fail to reach their potential due to poor leadership. Our guide allows you to examine your current skills as a CEO or leader so you can improve in the appropriate areas and grow your adult-use and/or medical cannabis business. 

Cannabis CEO leading team meeting

Strong Communication Skills

In any cannabis executive role, communication is critical. According to a report by Salesforce, 86% of employees and executives point to ineffective communication for failures at work. The best cannabis executives are clear and balanced with their communication. They are direct with their expectations and goals and can lay out their ideas in easily digestible ways. Additionally, a CEO or executive leader knows how to provide constructive feedback in a way that’s inspiring and boosts morale when needed. Successful leaders devote the necessary time to communicate with their employees to keep the team motivated, aligned with company goals, and focused on creating an incredible consumer experience. 

Ability to Build Genuine Relationships

Prosperous cannabis executives all have the ability to build authentic relationships with both their employees and clients. Keeping positive relationships with clients places them in the loyalty loop. This means they will keep your company at the top of their list when your services are needed. Additionally, building positive relationships with your employees allows them to be comfortable and more open around you, as well as encourages them to go the extra mile. To build genuine connections, be mindful, show your appreciation and trust, and learn to listen attentively. 


To survive in the cannabis industry, one has to be adaptable, as rules and regulations change often. Even one new regulation enforced bring up significant challenges. There are also plenty of innovative products being introduced into the market all the time, so the ability to pivot and react appropriately is a must. Successful cannabis executives also know how to adapt to the different managing preferences of their staff. Not everyone learns in the same way, so adapting to the needs of your employees is necessary. Build your cognitive flexibility by always thinking about adjustments you can make to help your team and company reach the next level, even during a pandemic. A cannabis leader who is firm and set on one way of doing things will not likely go far. 

Coaching Skills 

Most people don’t respond well to a leader who barks orders or dictates to their staff. Successful business owners in the cannabis space know that coaching is far more effective than dictating. Many typically see managing as a one-way street, but that hinders your team’s true potential. Effective cannabis executives and business owners guide their employees and then trust them to make smart decisions. Furthermore, an exemplary coach not only guides their tribe, but listens to ideas, supports all of the employees, and puts themselves in the worker’s shoes. In using the coaching management style, your cannabis team will truly collaborate to tackle any problem that arises or come up with creative ideas to propel the company higher. 


Thriving cannabis leaders have a personable demeanor, staying humble no matter what the situation. They let their work do the talking and are always focused on developing the next admirable leaders in the company. Humble leaders admit their mistakes, seek input from their team members, and care about the growth of others. They don’t steal the spotlight, but rather focus on the team as a whole. By being humble, leaders earn more respect and loyalty than those who are self-involved, resulting in a happy work environment built on collaboration and support. 

Capable of Listening

Cannabis executive jobs are not meant for everyone, as it takes a particular toolbox of skills to be successful. One of the most crucial skills is the ability to listen. So many leaders are overconfident that they fail to listen to their employees, and therefore, become close-minded. The capability to listen to the ideas of others, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them, is integral to success. Turn the volume down on your ego and listen with a neutral mindset to open yourself up and expand your mind.  

Makes Decisions with Conviction 

Cannabis executives have to be courageous, firm decision-makers. Hesitation and second-guessing in the cannabis space will only hurt progress. Leaders in the cannabis industry have to make decisions with conviction to capitalize on new opportunities and be the driving force of the team. Although they may not be right all of the time, they should be confident and as well-informed as they can be to make the call. Those who are decisive are 12 times more likely to be high-performing CEOs. Remember to always think about the big picture impact of your decision and potential downsides if your choice happens to be wrong. Also, always keep the consumer in mind. Your day-to-day cannabiz decisions should be made with confidence to keep your marijuana business afloat. 


The top cannabis executives are a different breed, and one of the aspects that sets them apart from the rest is optimism. More specifically, staying positive in the face of ambiguity or trying times. A positive mindset is a powerful thing, but not everyone can harness that power and use it to find the light at the end of the tunnel. And with all the ups and downs of the cannabis industry, an optimistic point of view is essential if you’re in the driver’s seat of a cannabis company. It takes constant effort to stay optimistic and run a cannabis business. From meditation to yoga to keeping a journal to practice gratitude, there are plenty of options. Find what works for you and make it a habit. 

Ability to Learn from Failure

Life is all about how you take hits and roll with the punches to keep moving forward. This is especially true in the essential cannabis industry where there are plenty of risks and potential for failure. However, to be successful means you have to take risks. So, disappointments are an inevitable part of the game. By learning from the failures along the way, you evolve as a leader, which is the road to real success. The most prosperous cannabis executives believe that failure is the best teacher. Analyzing your failure, making adjustments, and pushing forward is a process that leads to victory. 


Model leaders in the cannabis industry are creative problem solvers that take on challenges as opportunities to triumph. In the cannabis industry, once something catches fire in popularity, everyone starts following suit for the chance to rake in more revenue. It’s more beneficial and profitable to be an innovator rather than a follower. If you’re firm on Not only does creative problem-solving help your business stay relevant, but it also allows you to be future-proof. The creative cannabis CEOs are the tastemakers of the space, leading the industry through novelty. Try and exercise different ways to think outside the box in any setting to exercise and nurture your creativity. Whether you’re in the business of medical marijuana, hemp, cannabis merchandising, ancillary cannabis products, or you have your own dispensary, creativity plays a big factor in staying on top. 

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