The top 3 leadership skills needed to address the rise of Gen Z

Lee Hecht Harrison
Millennials, together with the even-younger Generation Zs now entering the workplace, are causing a management dilemma. These workers have vastly different expectations from the generations who came before: they want a clear path to success and fulfilment and are impatient in achieving their goals. If given the opportunity, their resourceful, energetic perspective has the power to disrupt entire industries. Yet what leadership capabilities are needed to truly unlock the potential of these generations?
Great Expectations
The new cohorts arriving in the workplace are less motivated by money than they are by factors such as the desire to learn and to progress; to be given responsibility at an early stage in their career, and to achieve job satisfaction and a wide variety of ‘experiences’ in their work. It is not about changing all business models and structures to appease this younger generation, but having the right leaders in place who are able to effectively manage these expectations and ensure all generations gel and work well together.
Leadership in the post-hierarchy age
Business leaders may be nervous about taking any action in the name of top young talent, however, this may be less to do with the desire to change and more to do with the leader’s capability to change. This young talent pool will simply haemorrhage away, lured by the opportunities for new experiences and responsibilities elsewhere if they are not engaged with. And if nearly 84% aspire to be leaders and 60% of both Gen Y and Z said their leadership aspirations lay within their current company, it is not a talent pool you want to see leave the business. Therefore investing in leadership development programmes that upskill managers to ensure they have the capabilities to adapt and effectively lead such a diverse workforce quickly deliver a return on investment.
So what top three skills will leaders need to engage with Gen Z employees:
Transparency – There are no hiding places with a flatter structure, therefore your leaders need to be open and honest about their expectations and business needs. A skill not all leaders are comfortable with, but when applied successfully collaboration across all generations can be creatively and quickly implemented.
Adaptability – It is one thing identifying the different generational needs, but it is another adapting a whole structure, business model or performance measure to get the best out of your workforce. Developing the power to adapt appropriately to get the best out of your people can give organisations a real competitive edge.
Awareness – All of this goes out of the window if your leaders are not aware of what is happening around them. Gen Z will quickly be a big part of your workforce and if leaders are not attentive to what this might mean for the business, this talent pool could quickly leak out to your competitors where leaders have the power to engage and motivate them.