As Generation Z (born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s) enters the workforce and becomes more influential in society, their expectations of leadership are reshaping traditional notions of authority and management. Understanding what Gen Z wants from leaders is crucial for organizations looking to attract, retain, and motivate this generation of workers and citizens.

Authenticity and Transparency
Gen Z craves authenticity from their leaders. They value honesty and transparency, expecting leaders to be open about their decisions, challenges, and even their own vulnerabilities. The generation has grown up in an era of information abundance and is quick to spot inauthenticity. Leaders who are genuine in their communication and actions are more likely to gain the trust and respect of Gen Z.

Purpose-Driven Leadership
Having witnessed global challenges like climate change and social inequality, Gen Z seeks leaders who are committed to making a positive impact. Cohort members want to work for and follow leaders who have a clear sense of purpose beyond profit. Leaders who articulate and act on a meaningful vision that aligns with Gen Z’s values of social responsibility and environmental sustainability are more likely to inspire and engage this generation.

Inclusivity and Diversity
As the most diverse generation in history, Gen Z expects leaders to champion inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of life and work. Folks want leaders who not only talk about diversity but actively work to create inclusive environments where all voices are heard and valued. Leaders who demonstrate a genuine commitment to equity and representation across race, gender, sexual orientation, and other dimensions of diversity will resonate strongly with Gen Z.

Technological Savvy
Having grown up as digital natives, Gen Z expects leaders to be technologically adept. Members want leaders who understand and leverage the latest technologies to improve efficiency, communication, and innovation. Managers who resist technological change or fail to adapt to digital trends may struggle to connect with and lead Gen Z effectively.

Continuous Learning and Adaptability
In a rapidly changing world, Gen Z values leaders who demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and adaptability. Folks respect leaders who are open to new ideas, willing to learn from others (including younger team members), and able to pivot strategies in response to new information or changing circumstances.

Work-Life Integration
Gen Z seeks leaders who understand and support work-life integration. Unlike previous generations that emphasized work-life balance, Gen Z often sees less distinction between work and personal life. They want leaders who provide flexibility in how, when, and where work is done, and who respect the importance of mental health and personal well-being.

Collaborative and Flat Hierarchies
Traditional top-down leadership models are less appealing to Gen Z. People prefer leaders who foster collaborative environments and flatter organizational structures. Gen Z wants to feel that their ideas and contributions are valued, regardless of their position or experience level.

Feedback and Growth Opportunities
Gen Z desires regular feedback and opportunities for growth. And want leaders who provide clear paths for development, offer mentorship, and give frequent, constructive feedback. Team leads who invest in the personal and professional growth of Gen Z team members are likely to earn their loyalty and commitment.

Long story short: Gen Z is looking for a new breed of leader – one who is authentic, purpose-driven, inclusive, tech-savvy, adaptable, supportive of work-life integration, collaborative, and committed to their growth. Organizations and institutions that cultivate these leadership qualities will be better positioned to engage and inspire the next generation of workers and citizens.