Early in 2018, I accepted an exciting executive leadership role with Leafly. The mission was to launch our platform in Canada and build a team of experts in market as the nation prepared for the federal legalization of cannabis. Knowing that it would be a year fraught with new challenges and meaningful work, it felt paramount to create a professional creed that would act as my core tenets as we built the company.

Once the contract was signed, I carved out some quiet time with a pen and paper to create what would inevitably be my guiding light throughout 2018. After the draft had been fine tuned, I quickly drew up duplicate copies to keep on my fridge, desk, and notepad that would act as a constant companion and reinforcement mechanism to pull out when necessary (and trust me, that was often)… over a year later, I still look at these every single day and feel like they may be relevant for you.

1. Make decisions with imperfect information.

It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. Assuming that most people spend around seven hours sleeping, that is roughly 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two seconds. Just let that sink in for a minute.

It is no secret that great leaders must be decisive plus use their imagination and intuition to guide positive outcomes. Regardless of industry, but especially in cannabis, I have found that getting comfortable in discomfort is one of the constants. Every day policies are shifting, orgs are going throw growing pains, the landscape is chaotic, but ultimately the minutia really does matter when your team, partners, and revenue are at stake. Sometimes it’s not about making the right decision, but just making a decision at all that counts.

2. Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail

They say that favour fortunes the brave, and that much is certainly true in this industry. That said, I have always believed that you must embrace some level of discomfort if you want to create interesting work. If you want to really make a dent, risk is not the enemy. It’s an opportunity… and eventually fear just becomes part of the creative and business process as you learn to adapt. A ripple effect from this behaviour, is to inspire others to be bold, take risks and pursue their best. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help others unlock their potential. In Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers encourages us to move from a place of pain, paralysis, and indecision to one of power, energy, enthusiasm and action. She says:

“Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably.”

Fear can fuel you, leverage it whenever possible.

3. Communicate. Clearly & often.

My husband has this saying, better out than in, which despite best efforts has seeped into my corporate communication strategy. The idea is simple — over communicate. In a high stakes, fast paced environment, the best thing you can do as a leader, employee, and anyone client facing, is share recurring communication. Inevitably, it’s a habit that builds trust and lets people know what to expect from you.

From a leadership perspective, it’s an incredibly effective way to share + build on vision and ensure that you’re creating a constant feedback loop that the team can be a part of. Bad communication habits lead to siloed teams, and siloed teams feed into workplace tribalism. It’s no secret, teams that collaborate well with one another tend to be more transparent and accountable, allowing them to move quickly and drive better results — that all starts with communication.

4. Delegate. Trust the team.

If you want something done right, you must do it yourself… right?

Wrong. Delegation benefits managers, direct reports, and organizations. When starting a business from ground zero in a start-up environment, nix your go and surround yourself with a team of experts. It’s a critical skill to have the ability to give others the decision-making power they’d normally expect you to carry — and one that helps everyone on the team stretch and grow. In my humble opinion, trust is the most precious attribute that fuels efficient teams.

5. Be open. Feedback is a gift.

Good or bad — the more you open yourself up to data collection, the better off you’ll be. In the name of constant improvement and no matter how harsh the feedback might seem, it’s always going to be valuable.

The bottom line for getting better at providing feedback is to change “your mental model to ‘It’s a gift. It’s data. It’s data I didn’t have before with which I can now make more informed choices.’” In turn, we also have to recognize that feedback is in service to the both the company and the employee — if we are tied to one common vision and goal, it’s critical for a healthy culture to keep lines of communication open and honest.

One thing I want to explicitly call out, is that positive feedback is essential. There are always going to be instances where people need to course correct, but celebrating marginal gains and those significant wins are equally important. Employees need to know when they’re doing something right. It’s also a business opportunity — positive feedback tends to improve morale, increase engagement, and it actually drives business results.

Have a tip or something inspiring to share? I’m always looking to improve and sharpen my toolkit. Leave a comment or reach out anytime!

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Jo Vos

Jo Vos

Fractional CMO. Always building, always learning.