Gen Z in the Workplace: 10 Leadership Tactics You Need to Know

by Corey Philip //  November 18, 2022

As organizations welcome an increasing number of Gen-Z employees, it’s imperative that they learn to embrace the evolving perspectives brought into the workplace. In addition, leaders must implement dynamic and adaptive leadership styles to match Gen-Z employees’ learning styles and expectations.

Identifying (and implementing) the best leadership tactics for Gen-Z employees is critical. It makes room for influence, trust, and effective communication from leaders.

So, what are the best leadership tactics for Gen-Z employees?

In this article, we’ll cover some best leadership tactics to help you attract, manage, and retain Gen-Z employees.

Here we go.

The Best Leadership Tactics for Gen-Z Employees

Generation Z – born between 1996 and 2010 – are our latest generation entering the workforce. Within the next decade, they will fill a third of the entire workforce. Gen-Z has a unique set of needs, culture, and behaviors that make it imperative for leaders to adapt their leadership styles.

Our future relies on how we inspire, motivate, engage, and grow with Gen-Z. Therefore, leaders need to align and adapt their leadership styles and tactics.

Below are some of them.

1. Adopt a Transformational Leadership Style

A study exploring Gen-Z's leadership preferences shows that Gen-Z employees desire creativity and innovation, suggesting that they prefer a Transformational Leadership Style.

Transformational leadership traits include being proactive, emotionally intelligent, open-minded, creative, adaptable, inspiring growth, authentic, genuine, loyal, and human and psychologically empowered.

The primary components of transformational leadership include:

  • Individualized consideration. Transformational leaders foster supportive relationships. They encourage individual followers by offering instant recognition of the unique contributions of each follower.
  • Intellectual stimulation. Transformational leaders challenge the status quo and encourage creativity and new learning opportunities among followers.
  • Inspirational motivation. Transformational leaders articulate a clear vision to followers, helping the followers experience a similar passion and motivation to reach these goals.
  • Idealized influence. Transformational leaders are role models for their followers. Followers will emulate the leader and internalize their standards because they trust and respect the leader.

2. Avoid Transactional Leadership Styles

Transactional leadership is often contrasted with transformational leadership. Here is a brief comparison among the two.

Transactional Leadership Style

Transformational Leadership Style

  • Leaders motivate employees through rewards and punishment.
  • Leaders focus on compliance and short-term goals.
  • Use extrinsic rewards like money or promotions.
  • Leaders motivate employees with inspiration, enthusiasm, and positive reinforcement. 
  • Leaders focus on commitment and long-term success.
  • Use intrinsic rewards like esteem and pride.

While Baby Boomers and Gen-X heavily rely on transactional leadership, Gen-Z employees thrive from relationship-focused transformational leadership styles. The relationship is built on loyalty and encourages creativity, innovation, better performance, growth, improved well-being, and a sense of empowerment for Gen-Z workers.

3. Be Authentic

Gen-Z isn’t particularly concerned by titles. Instead, they desire to be led by people with credibility and authenticity. Gen-Z employees welcome leaders with proven functional leadership and people skills. Therefore, be authentic and honest, and strive to do your best without relying on your title.

4. Implement a Tech-First Approach

Results from a Dell Technologies study show that Gen-Z individuals are confident about their technical skills but unsure about their non-tech, soft skills in the workforce. Additionally, 91% of Gen-Z respondents believe that technology would influence their job choice.

Gen-Z is a digital-first generation. Born into a world of technology, they grew up with a supercomputer in their pocket. They find technology, internet, and social media to be an intrinsic part of their life.

Gen-Z is highly educated and technologically competent. These tech-savvy workers bring new skills, a world of knowledge, and high expectations when joining the workforce. Instead of worrying that Gen-Z employees will outpace you and your senior workers, use technology to your benefit. Embracing new technology will help your Gen-Z employees stay productive and committed.

5. Engage Using In-person Communication

In-person communication triumphs virtual communication. Despite wanting to work with the latest technology, Gen-Z employees prefer in-person communication and connection in the workplace.

A presentation including live polling showed that 72% of Gen-Z individuals responded to preferring face-to-face communication at work. These workers thrive on genuine relationships with their leaders. In addition, Gen-Z prefers engaging in continuous communication and immediate feedback with their leaders. They also prefer learning from peers to online programs.

(Source: Inc.)

6. Ensure Immediate and Frequent Feedback

Gen-Z individuals insist on transparency and frequent internal communication in the workplace. They are more realistic and prefer the hard truth than being thrown off guard. As a leader, instill transparency as a workplace culture norm and provide frequent feedback and check-ins with your employees.

Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings and prioritize honest and open communication. Additionally, provide quarterly and annual reviews to ensure your Gen-Z employees receive much-wanted security and validation.

7. Prioritize Ethics, Values, and Culture

Gen-Z is a socially aware group that finds ethics, values, and culture an imperative component of their workplace. Gen-Z employees need to work in an inclusive and diverse work environment where race, age, sex, religion, and different educational background are valued and welcomed.

Leaders need to provide a workplace where Gen-Z employees can align with strong values and mission statements that affirmatively commit to inclusion, diversity, and empowerment.

8. Offer Workplace Flexibility 

Gen-Z believes they are hard workers. However, many young workers admit that they would put more effort and commitment into a company that supports flexible schedules. Leaders can employ remote working tools like ProofHub, Nuclino, Basecamp, etc., to ensure flexible schedules while keeping their workforce engaged.

9. Acknowledge Life apart from Work

Gen-Z employees care about their mental health and desire empathetic leaders that acknowledge life apart from work. You can help combat stress in the workplace by implementing an employee wellness program.

Options to consider: Free healthy foods, health coaching, fitness or yoga classes, a de-stress zone, on-site clinics, and wellness challenges.

10. Empower Gen-Z Employees

Gen-Z employees love being trusted and encouraged to take risks. Consider creating a “freedom and responsibility” work environment. Give Gen-Z employees opportunities and the necessary resources to perform a task and loosen the reins.

Allow them to be creative and take ownership in adding value to the company. Your motivation, trust, and recognition will encourage Gen-Z employees to become a greater version of themselves.

Final Thoughts

One-size-fits-all leadership approaches do not work anymore. Instead, leaders need to evolve with Gen-Z employees that are quickly dominating the workforce. Gen-Z needs authentic, creative leaders, open to new ideas, and care about human and psychological empowerment.

Ready to check out and listen to the best leadership podcasts? Read 14 Best Leadership Podcasts To Help You Go Forth and Conquer to learn more!

About the author

Corey Philip

Corey Philip is a small business owner / investor with a focus on home service businesses.

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