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On Campus: How to lead Gen Z’ers

We live in a fast-changing world; in this digital age, technology has become a part of our lives and changed how we live. We have to adapt to the advancement of digital innovation in order to survive and thrive. At the same time, people development is considered to be even more necessary.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 19 December 2021, 11:00AM

Sita Kajaikiatgamjorn is a fourth-year student majoring in International Business: China at the Faculty of International Studies, PSU Phuket Campus ‒ and all Gen Z. Photo: Khirakon Maneesa-Ard

Sita Kajaikiatgamjorn is a fourth-year student majoring in International Business: China at the Faculty of International Studies, PSU Phuket Campus ‒ and all Gen Z. Photo: Khirakon Maneesa-Ard

The upcoming Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, will have a major impact on the world. According to social analyst Mark McCrindle, Gen Z is the largest generation ever. By 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce. Therefore, to be a good leader it’s necessary to focus more on successful people management.

Gen Z’ers consider themselves as “digital natives” because they have no idea about the world before technology. This generational gap often leads to miscommunication and conflict. Therefore, in order to lead Gen Z’ers successfully, leaders need to understand the nature of the people in this generation.

Gen Z is quite unique compared to other generations. While the traditional leadership style focused on command and control because it “worked” for people in prior generations, this leadership style may not work for Gen Z’ers as they value their independence perhaps more than their predecessors.

In the past, people worked to pay their bills, doing whatever work they could do. In contrast, Gen Z’ers are pickier; they want to work in a job that holds meaning beyond just getting paid and waiting to retire. They mostly prefer to have their own standpoint, and they want to be heard. So, as a leader, it’s better to not try to control them but inspire them and let them learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Coaching leadership style is a good choice because it unlocks the hidden skills in people without fundamentally changing who they are, making Gen Z’ers happier in the workspace. This style is similar to a coach in the sporting world who directs the team to success. 

Here are the keys to successful coaching leadership:

Start with trust. Build trust by forging a relationship with your team. A good leader will not tell the team what to do, a two-way conversation is needed. Ask questions and listen more to better understand the team member’s work motivation.

Let them engage more. Coaching is different from commanding; it is focused on developing the people. Collaborating and working together with your team will unlock their potential. It will enable them to have their own standpoint or style of working and help elevate team performance in the long run. In return, your team will be able to coach others in the future.

Provide feedback. Don’t complain. Complaining is useless, it never makes things better. If you want your team members to fix a problem, instead of complaining, give constructive feedback to help them learn and understand what they need to improve. By doing so, you will boost your team’s performance, while at the same time not destroying their confidence.

Support your team. Support your team members’ ideas and provide the necessary resources and tools they need. Being supportive will help them perform better and increase their creativity. 

To sum up, if you want to make Gen Z’ers work for you, don’t be a boss, be a leader like a coach. Listen first and try to understand who we truly are. Trust-building is a good start. Ask questions. Collaborate and show support. Providing feedback instead of complaining will lead to true people development. Coaching leadership can be hard and time-consuming, but it is the leadership style that works best when leading the Gen Z’ers. 

By Sita Kajaikiatgamjorn

NOTE: The view and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Prince of Songkla University (PSU) Phuket Campus and its employees or official policies of PSU Phuket.

This article was featured in ’The Phuket Collegiate Magazine’, the university magazine published by Milla Budiarto at PSU Phuket. For more information, visit: https://www.phuket.psu.ac.th/en/magazine or to share ideas with Milla email: magazine@phuket.psu.ac.th.

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