Leading and Managing Generations Y and Z

The right leadership style will not only assist with effective work outcomes – it will also help with Gen Y & Z retention. Our analysis of the causes of employee turnover shows the central role that leadership plays in employee retention. Specifically, 42% of Gen Ys surveyed reported that poor management and leadership was a key reason for leaving their previous role.

Gen Y and Z do not respond well to hierarchical leadership structures. Unlike the Baby Boomers, the new generations have been raised in an environment where they have been given leadership opportunities throughout their schooling and encouraged to challenge and independently evaluate other’s decisions. As a result they have brought new values to the workplace. The new employees expect to be treated as equals, they expect to have choices and input into decision-making processes, and such expectations run counter to hierarchical systems of leadership.

Also, because young people have been used to support from parents and teachers and have had it for longer than any other generation (many are still living at home with mum and dad), they want a leader who is supportive. However, while they want support, they don’t want it in an overly structured way.

So what leadership and management styles work best?

1. Authoritarian:

Style: The positional leader relying on rank and role.

Verdict: Might be acceptable in the military or in the 1950’s – but not today. No sir!

2. Directing:

Style: Leader points the way from afar and delegates the tasks.

Verdict: They want guidance not gurus, mentoring not micromanagement.

3. Consulting:

Style: Leader asks the questions and includes the team.

Verdict: A good approach. Gen Y has opinions and wants to voice them.

4. Involving:

Style: The participative leader – leading from within and leading by example.

Verdict: This generation loves a leader who empowers the team.

5. Coaching:

Style: Leadership that is not a positional role, but more an influence relationship.

Verdict: This style is made for Gen Y. Two thumbs up!

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