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A recent Forbes article observed countries with women in positions of leadership had excelled in managing the COVID-19 crisis. FlowerHire knows that leading a company through crisis because of their ability to exemplify “transformational leadership.” We put together an amazing group of strong women leaders from the cannabis industry to discuss the challenges and strategies of leading a team through a crisis. The panel included Tahira Rehmatullah, President, T3 Ventures, Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, CEO, New Frontier Data, Amanda Ostrowitz, Esq. CSO, Fyllo and former CEO, CannaRegs and, Andrea Brooks, CEO and Founder of Sava.
Forbes described “transformational leadership” with a combination of traits including vision, inspiration, direction-setting, and out-of-the-box thinking. While the panelist agreed with these traits, they also explained the importance of communication and humanizing work relationships. Although checking in on the team is essential during this time, these leaders took the extra step to make sure their employees and team members felt supported. While they updated the team on all plans for the next steps and any scenarios, attending their meetings in sweatpants gave their coworkers comfort. Those actions allowed people to understand we are all humans and in this together. The panelist explained it was important to make employees feel comfortable and as if they are part of a community.
This method of communication also gave allowed the panelist to have full transparency. Instead of mass layoffs, their companies checked in with peers, investors and the whole company asking ideas and opinions from all. This empowered and engaged everyone to be in on the decision making process and in turn, allowed for a different approach such as pay cuts rather than layoffs.
The future of cannabis was also brought up and the panelist had varying opinions on the subject. One panelist acknowledged the essential service designation as a recognition element, yet no more than that. Although there is more to come from that recognition, Tahira Rehmatullah from T3 Ventures explained we will not necessarily come out this being federally legalized and are not done dealing with the thick of it.
Other panelists saw this crisis as an opportunity for cannabis to grow and reach areas they would normally be unable to reach. For example, this experience has opened up available talent and has seen more responses from people that we wouldn’t normally get a response. “We are all off the road and on our computers, so contact there is a lot of opportunities to create awareness since we aren’t running to meetings,” said Amanda Ostrowitz from Fyllo. Others agreed and said not only will we see an expedited legalization but also an activation in the investment flow. One thing all panelists could agree on was the value of data during this time. A data-driven approach is more important now than ever before for portfolio management, consumer trends, applying ROI, and action plans.
The discussion ended with an emphasis on the importance of diversifying companies with both women and minorities in positions of leadership. There is a need to focus on reversing the trend of male-dominated industries or stabilizing it so it doesn’t drop again. It’s not about just running good businesses and hitting numbers, it’s about getting women in the investor’s seats. Companies need to actively put the time into putting diversity into the deck.