With the new generation of young professionals entering the workplace, the future of the leadership institute looks LIT! The new army of bright, tech-savvy kids entering the workforce in the near future is about to reinvent leadership and work styles, alike.
With values as their guiding star, Gen-Zers are here to revolutionize everything we know about the corporate world. As the first digitally native generation, using technology to influence the world around is child’s play to them.
And, like with any inter-generational shift, leaders are going to reinvent their styles in accordance with the new kids on the block. With an alleged attention span of less than 7 seconds, Gen Z is nothing like their elder predecessors.
Every generation is shaped by the technology available at the time and the psychological impact of world events surrounding their developing hearts. And similarly, in the case of Gen Z, digital nativity ensures that they are adaptable to all and any form of futuristic technological development. This makes them the future of the business world, in every sense of the world.
Also, having grown up watching their millennial counterparts struggle with the Great Recession, and facing a global pandemic all before their late 20s has given them a unique outlook on life, leadership, and everything in between.
Let’s take a deeper look into what all makes Gen Z a true ‘unicorn’ of workforce generations-
Mind over money
Perhaps what truly makes this new generation different from their predecessors is their relationship with money. Unlike their immediate elders, Gen Z values ethos over financial stability. A recent Deloitte survey revealed that Gen Z employees need their leaders to walk their talk.
Companies who fail to live by the values they represent are likely to lose their Gen Z talent to other organizations. Quick at changing jobs and sometimes even professions, Gen Z has no time for false gods. And, they simply refuse to be impressed by numbers alone.
Diversity and inclusivity reign supreme when it comes to this socially ‘woke’ generation. For leaders and organizations looking to hire and retain high-performing Gen Z-ers, this is a very important thing to note. Not only does this generation stand by ethical values, but is willing to speak up whenever they feel like it's being overlooked.
With the power of social media in the palm of their hands, their social capital and influencing power remain formidable. Thus, leaders need to start embracing their organizational values as absolute. Or they may lose high-performing newcomers, in the blink of an eye.
The disruption caused by two pandemic-stricken years has robbed this new generation of multiple life-forming milestones and rituals. From throwing off their graduation caps in the air to experiencing college life beyond a virtual screen – Gen Z has missed out on a lot.
These seemingly inconsequential rites of passage go a long way when it comes to character and skills development. Without having collaborated over group projects in real-time, and sharing last-minute assignment pressures with their friends, Gen Z is more disconnected from each other than ever. Add to it, the perceived connection built over social media and online platforms, and we have a real problem on our hands.
In most cases, learning occurred in the presence of family members. House-bound and juggling multiple responsibilities fail to provide a conducive environment for instructions, without any practical preparation.
The cultural transition between college and professional life is hard enough. And the added baggage of the past two years worth of disruption is bound to make things difficult.
EQ trumps IQ
The importance of emotional intelligence, regardless of the industry in question, cannot be overstated. It not only includes empathy, but also self-awareness, motivation, and the ability to motivate - among other social skills.
These are not only essential for maintaining interpersonal relationships, but also determine effective leadership. And, it’s a skill that can be both taught and learned. Employees who work towards developing their emotional intelligence have proved to do better, and lead better.
And this presents a very unique challenge and also an opportunity for the new generation of leaders. Gen Z enters the organizational world carrying the baggage of a massive upheaval in their induction years, thanks to the pandemic.
The lack of face-to-face interactions with their colleagues and leaders has put a huge dent in their growth as emotionally intelligent people. Lack of social interactions has deprived them of the chance of learning by observing the behaviour of their leaders and mentors. They also are facing a lack of direction when it comes to discovering what motivates and inspires them.
This means that they’ll need more time to undertake the inevitable self-exploration journey every young professional needs to.
This puts the ball in the leaders’ court. Leaders looking to hire this generation of workers need to step up and play the mentor role really well. Organizations and leaders, alike, will have to come up with training programs and other developmental initiatives to help their youngest employees find the right values and individual paths in life.
Soft skills no longer can take a backseat. In fact, calling them soft skills can also no longer suffice. Instead, these are essential life skills that need to be developed and taught effectively across companies and industries, alike.
When all is said and done, this new generation presents leaders and organizations with the unique chance of re-inventing the leadership wheel. Having faced unprecedented and unpredictable adversities and challenges unlike any other generation, Gen Z is bound to bring a different ‘vibe’ to the table.
With resilience and humility in their armour, this new generation can transform the business world, if given the right chance. Leaders need to draw up effective strategies to enable impactful formative experiences for their new employees by providing structured support and guidance. They need to help enable a smooth and hassle-free campus to corporate transition for this generation of young leaders and help them tap into their full potential.