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Rethinking Leadership for Gen-Z  

Himika Akram reporter  

As more people from the Gen-Z generation are entering the workforce, it is time to rethink and even mold the nature of leadership that exists in organizations today, which centers around millennials as the prime focus.  Though different opinions exist on exactly which span of the years should be called exclusively Gen-Zs’ years; the most commonly accepted years span is 1997-2012. Generally, people born during this time period are called Gen-Z people/ zoomers/ iGeneration/ Homlanders/ post-millennials.  

This generation was born at such a time when cable television or landline phones peacefully co-existed with the internet and social media. Even though the craze about social media did not start roughly before 2004. But the bottom line is, knowledge and education were much easier for this generation than the others because of the internet. Everything was available at their fingertips, unlike the people from the Baby-boomers, Gen X, or the millennial generation. Hence it is normal that the way Gen-Z sees the world, their expectations, focus, goals, attitudes, values, etc. are very much different from the other generations.  

As per different studies on Gen Zers, there are some common traits that have been noticed among the people belonging to this generation. They are ambitious, impatient, go-getters, prefer transparency, and expect clear-cut, concise, and fast communication. The paternal nature of leadership roles is something they do not expect where the “boss is always right” and employees are treated like subordinates. Micromanagement is not their thing. They expect autonomy in what they do. Unlike the millennial generation, who appreciates collective leadership and flat management; Gen-Z prefers individuality. They understand the value of collective effort, but when it comes to performance; they like to have their own space free of hierarchical interference.  

But the negative side of this generation is that they tend to be impatient with high expectations. As a result, for the first five or six years of their career, they tend to switch jobs a lot. They get confused about their goals and focus, or what they want to achieve from the job they are doing. It leaves a negative impact both for the employers and the employee because employers feel disheartened that after investing their time and effort in the Gen Z candidates, they leave the company soon. It also creates a negative image about the candidate as well as they are giving an impression to the next recruiter that they cannot be steady in their job.  

But generally, Gen- Z is a bunch of talented people with a particularly good command over technology and a fresh perspective. According to Britannica.com, in the USA, more than 50% of Gen-Z are ethnic minorities. It is crucially important for the people chairing the leadership positions, to create an environment to nurture these Gen Zers as they are going to be the next leaders. 

It is time to modify the nature of the leadership in such a way that can be welcoming and favorable to the utmost flourishment of the Gen-Z. Studies on this generation have found some keys to being successful in creating that environment.  

Firstly, rationality is the key. As when a Gen- Z joins a company, they might have a completely different expectation than the reality. It is important for the leaders to explain to them in the very beginning what they can expect in their current role and what the purpose is.  

Constant feedback has no better alternative. A leader who gives face-to-face feedback is appreciated by Gen Zers.  They expect coaching, guidance, and feedback to feel valued and important to the organization. 

Thirdly, good works always need to be appreciated with rewards and recognition. This a rapid generation; they expect rapid recognition of their effort. If not shown appreciation, they feel demotivated very soon. 

Also, leaders need to empower them as individuals. They expect ownership of the work they are given. Having said that, monitoring should be there, but that needs to be in the form of training, courses, clear guidance, and stating the expectations and objectives clearly instead of commanding. 

Leaders need to involve them in stretch assignments so that they can make the most of their thirst for learning and need to create a diverse working environment for them.  

Overall for leaders, it is crucially important to listen to the voices of the Gen Zers with empathy and not to make pre-assumptions. Sharing knowledge and giving them a space to flourish their creativity is the key to the successful integration of the Gen Z workers in an organization.  

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