The STEM Education Blog

What Generation Z Expects from Leadership

Aug 19, 2019 12:00:00 PM / by Neal Snapp

What defines a good leader varies depending on the lens in which leadership is viewed. For Gen Z, a respected leader exudes characteristics that are just a bit different than what generations of decades past might have expected from their leaders.

An article by Zachary N. Clark Empowerment and Envisioning: Creating Meaningful Generation Z Leadership Experiences, published by the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA), goes in depth on this subject. Here are some of the highlights:

What is Leadership?

Clark references Ruben’s What Leaders Need to Know and Do: A Leadership Competencies Scorecard when defining leadership as a status that attracts people, builds community, manages, influences, problem-solves, and creates vision through action and strategy. With this definition, let’s first look at some interesting characteristics of Gen Z before delving into what they expect from leadership.

Who Comprises Gen Z?

Generation Z includes those born between 1999 and 2015. Some other defining characteristics that Clark mentions are:
      • They make up 21% of the US population.
      • Are the most obese and least attentive generation, with the highest ADHD diagnoses.
      • 27% of their time is spent in front of screens.
      • They live among an older population due to their parents waiting longer to have children.
      • Technology plays a role in their every move.
      • Their world is smaller due to technology allowing borders to be crossed in seconds.
      • They prefer learning from a screen as opposed to books or newspapers.

How Gen Z Views Leadership

Each generation has its own perspective on what leadership should look like. The article covers how Baby Boomers find comfort in a highly structured leadership style, more in line with militaristic command. Generation X prefers pragmatism and practicality. Millennial’s focus on consensus and collaboration. Finally, Generation Z seeks empowerment and envisioning in their leadership. They value teamwork and mentoring, seeing a group as one entity working toward a vision rather than an authoritative leader delegating tasks to individuals. Gen Z also encourages involvement, seeing each member of a team to be an equal participant with a voice to be heard.

Members of Generation Z are the up and comers of the future workforce and communities. How they see leadership will shape the way that leadership is carried out, as with generations from the past. We can expect to see a shift towards leaders who listen more than they tell, a focus on originality and creativity, and an atmosphere of collaboration.

Want to get a jump on things and help your students learn collaboration skills that will no doubt be necessary in future leadership roles? Check out our blog about Making Your Classroom a Collaborative Space!


Topics: Social-Conscious STEM

Neal Snapp

Written by Neal Snapp