What Does Leadership Mean to Gen Z?

Four workers looking at a computer screen
A group of four people at work looking at a computer screen.

As Gen Z enters the workforce, it is essential that businesses know how to lead them in an effective way that encourages them to do their best work. The business industry has faced big changes already, as many Gen Zers have already started working. Those that haven’t started working yet have become influential buyers—changing the way businesses advertise and interact with consumers. So, as the rest of this young generation enters the workforce, what will effective leadership look like and mean to them? 

In a Forbes article titled, “Leaders, This Is How To Work With Gen Z Employees”, Liz Kislik gives employers insight on what to be prepared for and advice on how to lead these young people well. Kislik writes that employers should be ready for “off kilter” expectations; Gen Z often gets restless and confused if their first job does not satisfy what they believe is their purpose in life (Kislik, 2020). Because of this confusion and restlessness, it is essential that leaders help these young people adjust to the reality of these early jobs in life (Kislik, 2020). Employers should have conversations with their Gen Z employees about how building experience and relationships in these early jobs will result in higher satisfaction and success in the long run (Kislik, 2020). When leaders are willing to have these beneficial conversations with these young employees, they may be more likely to work for that company for longer.  

When Gen Z knows that their leaders have good intentions and are grounded in meaningful and purposeful work, they are more likely to have respect for their managers and leaders in the workplace (Kislik, 2020). Because of this, Gen Z will expect their company to “walk their talk” —meaning their company or organization takes action steps to do what they say they want or need to do (Kislik, 2020). Gen Z values more than just action within the business world; they also expect action when it comes to social issues and ethical dilemmas (Kislik, 2020). Leaders may be more likely to win over Gen Z employees if they create a comfortable space for them to express their opinions and allow them to make an impact, in the workplace and beyond.  

Lastly, this generation wants to be empowered and respected as individuals (Kislik, 2020). Leaders will likely need to adjust the way they communicate with this generation, compared to how they communicate with older employees. Gen Z is very different from any other working generation before them; they have different expectations and different views on what leadership is (Kislik, 2020). Businesses should make sure their managers and leaders are in touch with the wants and needs of this generation, as they will likely have a huge impact on the business industry for many years to come.  


Kislik, L. (2020, July 16). Leaders, this is how to work with gen z employees. Forbes. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizkislik/2020/07/16/leaders-this-is-how-to-work-with-gen-z-employees/?sh=5e918d192b63

Pairing gen Z with baby Boomers: The value OF cross-generational mentoring. Pairing Gen Z with Baby Boomers: The value of cross-generational mentoring. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://www.kellyservices.us/us/business_services/business-resource-center/managing-employees/pairing-gen-z-with-baby-boomers-the-value-of-cross-generational-mentoring/