The Most Effective Way to Lead Generation Z

Here is the leadership style that resonates best with Generation Z and three steps to execute it effectively.

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Generation Z fact-checking their teachers and parents in real-time on their smartphone represents a clear shift in authority.

Because information is disseminated so widely in today's age of information, Generation Z doesn't consider parents or teachers as the authority, but, rather, they view the Internet as the authority.

Having access to an Internet-enabled supercomputer in the palm of their hand for most their life has caused Generation Z to problem-solve much differently than previous generations. They have become extremely resourceful and efficient at using the web to find and/or crowd-source the answers they need.

Generation Z will turn to Google, YouTube, or Alexa first for answers instead of their future managers. Therefore managers must adjust their approach and serve as a guide where they coach Generation Z through their self-directed learning, mistakes, and successes.

The most effective way to lead Generation Z is by coaching.

Why Coaching is the Best Leadership Style for Generation Z

Coaching is the leadership style that resonates best with Generation Z. Generation Z were raised in organized activities where they were consistently surrounded by coaches. They view coaching as the necessary supplement to their DIY work mentality.

Coaching prompts introspection where Generation Z must turn inward to discover the right answer. This self-reflection and self-evaluation process allows Generation Z to become more productive and dependent because they can apply their self-discovered solutions to similar situations they encounter in the future.

Coaching is also effective because it creates greater buy-in since the Generation Z employee is arriving at the solution either individually or collectively with the coach.

How to Lead Generation Z with Coaching

The most effective coaching happens when leaders prioritize curiosity over instruction. Resist the urge to give advice and instead give in to asking more questions. Be curious and follow these three steps to coach Generation Z to their full potential.

1. Be Timely

The closer coaching happens to the activity or learning, the better. Impact and transformation diminish as time grows between the coaching opportunity and the act of coaching. To ensure the best results, enable timely coaching by leveraging tools like Slack, 15Five, Loop, or by increasing the cadence of the coaching sessions.

AT&T recently ended their mid-year and end-of-year review processes in favor of equipping managers with Loop so that they can provide employees with more timely coaching. The elimination of the formal review process has enabled AT&T managers more time and freedom to coach employees.

2. Be Inquisitive

Asking questions is what makes coaching so transformational. But asking the right questions that elicit the appropriate self-evaluation is not easy and takes practice.

Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, has identified a list of powerful coaching questions. Next time you are coaching Generation Z, use these sequential questions to elicit responses and spur growth.

  1. What's on your mind?
  2. And what else?
  3. What's the real challenge here for you?
  4. How can I help you?
  5. What was most useful or valuable here for you?

If you're at a loss of what to ask as a coach, use the simple phrase, "Tell me more."

3. Be Brief

Stanier believes effective coaching can be done in ten minutes or less. Brief interactions are important to Generation Z. In fact, 67 percent of Generation Z is comfortable with having their manager check in with them but only for five minutes or less.

Tackling one specific topic or challenge instead of covering multiple topics or projects will help keep the coaching sessions brief. Set a timer, have a walking or standing meeting, or schedule only ten minutes for the coaching conversation.

Practice these three coaching steps with your Generation Z workforce and be rewarded with a more engaged, developed, and loyal team.

I help companies better lead, engage, train, and sell to Millennials and Generation Z. If you’d like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.


Ryan Jenkins



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