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How do you lead today’s upcoming leaders?

How do you lead today’s upcoming leaders?

By Mike Heffner

The younger adults (ages 18-28) that are entering or recently joined the workforce (often referred to as Gen Z) are unique compared to my generation (Gen X), but they still want to work and genuinely do a good job. When it comes to leading the next generation, I’ve noticed five areas that are important.

  • Vulnerability – I am seeing a big need post Covid for this age group to be open to failure and pain. They want leaders that can show being vulnerable is not a weakness. We should be honest when things do not go well, sharing real stories and owning up to things. This allows for trust to be built. Life is tough and full of struggles. Things will not always go right and it’s OK to fail. That’s how we grow.
  • Authenticity – With all the “fake news” and division in the world today, Gen Z wants leaders that are genuine and transparent. They want the real you at work. They do not want a put-on persona or for you to tell them what you think they want to hear. Be believable and caring. They will connect with you when you are yourself.
  • Humble – This age group loves to serve, and they want leaders that want to serve. They look for leaders that do not see themselves as better than others but look to help others be successful. This generation has witnessed too many leaders that take advantage of their position and power, and they are starving for autonomy and empowerment. They simply want grounded leadership.
  • Caring – This upcoming generation wants to know you care and that they are valued as an individual. They want to work with and for someone that listens, looks to understand, and sees them as an individual and not just as someone that performs. They want you to inquire about their lives and take an interest in them and their overall well-being.
  • Direction and Support – They want someone that invests in them. They want to grow personally and professionally. They enjoy feedback on how they are doing and how they can improve. They want you to show them what needs to be done and then follow up with support and encouragement. They want specific direction, while being empowered and free to go execute.

I enjoy leading the young adults that are going to be the upcoming leaders for our teams and companies. They know what they want and even though it is different than what I wanted at that same age, I do think they genuinely want to work and do an excellent job. Their needs and terms are different and if as employers and leaders we can offer that, then we will see a hard-working group of people that will make a difference in the future.

This article is written by Mike Heffner, the owner of the local Greenwood Express Employment Professionals franchise. Contact Mike at Mike.Heffner@expresspros.com, @IndySouthMike on Twitter or visit ExpressIndySouth.com.

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