Emma Peardon

Generation Z: What are tomorrow’s leaders biggest priorities?

If you want successful succession in a business, you have to understand Generation Z.

Born roughly between 1995 and 2009, Generation Z follows on directly from Millennials – and it’s this next wave that will lead the businesses of the future. The more you understand what makes Gen Z tick, the better prepared your organisation will be for its next phase of recruitment or planning.

Key characteristics of Generation Z

Much like Millennials before them, Gen Z will be largely digital natives – people who have grown up in an internet-heavy environment, with high digital literacy and increased expectations around flexibility and mobility.

How will today's teenagers function in a work leadership environment?How will today’s teenagers function in a work leadership environment?

However, there are some core differences between Gen Z and Millennials that will be crucial to learning and leadership.

  • Visual learning. Digital nativity writ large – Gen Z is raised on video-based platforms like YouTube and Snapchat. This visual interaction will be a core component of how they interact, learn and lead.
  • Interpersonal anxiety. Because of the strong mobile and digital preferences of Gen Z, a recent Deloitte paper argues that Gen Z will be apprehensive about interpersonal communications in the workplace.
  • Global thinking. With barriers between nations blurred thanks to constant connectivity, Gen Z will expect an international flavour to their work, rather than focusing on one geographic space.
  • Multi-disciplinary. On platforms like Tumblr, individuals find themselves being marketers, writers, designers, coders and managers all at once. Combining aspects of multiple roles is key for Gen Z’s success.

In short, Gen Z is a group of globalised, multi-talented individuals that have a wider net of influences than ever before – and they expect that variety to be present in their work. We’ll see leaders assume multiple roles, or be able to engage with diverse departments more closely than ever before. However, those interpersonal challenges may impede their effectiveness.

Does digital fluency lead to a lack of interpersonal skills?Does digital fluency lead to a lack of interpersonal skills?

How to prepare for a Gen Z-focused workplace

The oldest members of Gen Z are already entering the workforce, and will begin to dominate lower-mid level roles over the next ten years. Organisations need to constantly be rethinking their entry level roles, providing opportunities across multiple disciplines and time zones.

HR will also play a critical role. If Gen Z does turn out to be poor with interpersonal communications, instead preferring digital interaction, organisations may have to invest resources in comms training or rework intra-office round rules.

Work with those priorities, and you lay the groundwork for the next generation of leaders to flourish.