Hello Gen Z: Three Leadership Foundations

Hello Gen Z: Three Leadership Foundations

Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2009) has been profoundly shaped in an immersive social context, and one where they are not only consumers but contributors and co-creators, and have been from the youngest of ages.

If you are in a position of leadership, chances are you are currently, or will soon be, leading Gen Zs in your teams and organisations. As such, understanding the leadership styles that these Post-Millennials best respond to and follow can help you as you seek to attract, engage and retain talented and motivated young people in your setting.

While strongly hierarchical, top-down models of leadership might have worked in the past in different settings, old models and approaches that gained traction in past eras are no longer gaining currency or attaining cut through in this redefined social context with emerging generations.

From interviews conducted with over 100 Gen Zs, we found that the emerging generations appreciate leaders who are able to:

  • Relate
  • Create
  • Release


For an immensely social generation, relationships are of the highest importance for Gen Z, and are viewed as being central to effective leadership. The function of leadership is deeply founded in relationships, being marked by vision, courage, and the capacity to inspire others to follow.

Gen Z are looking for leaders who are real, authentic, relational and genuine. They are quickly disenchanted by leaders they perceive to be fake, superior, or out-of-reach. They crave an authentic connection with their leaders, rather than a distant, removed authority figure who takes no interest in them and does not ‘speak their language’.


Gen Z are looking for leaders who actively create an engaging culture. Culture is the environment and lived reality that is created in an organisation; it fills the gap between what is announced and what is actually experienced.

A culture which will facilitate greater engagement from Gen Z is one where they feel safe to be known, contribute and learn. A leader who will effectively engage Gen Z will build on listening and facilitate a culture where people are encouraged to contribute ideas and solutions, rather than having their ideas shut down or be limited to simply completing tasks.

When building multigenerational teams and leading Gen Z, leaders who listen to the input of others will not only be more informed but will gain the trust and respect of team members. This approach will bring out the best of each team member and often open a door for reciprocal interactions, as people are much more likely to listen to leaders who have listened to the followers.


Gen Z are looking for leaders to set an example with their lives worth emulating, who have a focus on empowering and releasing others to fulfil their potential. Leaders can motivate and inspire Gen Zs by communicating high expectations to their followers and inspiring them to be committed and part of the shared vision of the organisation, through their own example.

Empowering and transformative leaders understand that the greatest asset in their organisation is the people. That the greatest potential, ideas, innovations and possibilities reside in the minds and hearts of those in their team.

Whilst Gen Z have been told repeatedly that they abound with potential, and have a desire for self-actualisation and to make a difference, it is not possible for this to be discovered and achieved on their own. Transformational leadership that is empowering requires perceptive, committed, older leaders to identify the specific gifts, talents, skills and interests of their Gen Z team members, invest in them, build on their strengths, identify any untapped potential, and instil in them a confidence to go beyond their comfort zones.

Based on extracts from the book Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials.

Hello Gen Z

Hello Gen Z is the new book from Claire Madden, Australia’s foremost social researcher on generational engagement.

With a foreword by Bernard Salt, this book will help organisations, educators, leaders and parents understand what has shaped this extraordinary group of young people. Order a copy of the book here. Bulk order discounts are also available.


About Claire Madden

Claire Madden (www.clairemadden.com) is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change.  As a keynote speaker, Claire is highly regarded for her dynamic and engaging presentations where she translates robust, research-based content into strategic applications for educators, managers and business leaders.

Download Claire’s speaking pack here.

To invite Claire to speak at your next event, email info@clairemadden.com or call +61 2 8091 4321.

By | 2018-02-13T11:08:20+11:00 February 13th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

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