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Gen Z – What types of leaders they will be?

Effective Gen Z leaders will demonstrate not just IQ but a huge deal of emotional intelligence as well, says Evelin Bako.


Published : 17.12.2020

I created my first email address when I was 7 years old. By the time I was 12, I had my own website about Disney characters, and I used Adobe Photoshop almost every day to create banners and graphics for my virtual “friends”.

I started my first blog at age 13 and have been using social media ever since. Thankfully, I had many other things in my childhood than the internet, but I can’t deny that computers, digital tools, games and the worldwide web have all been part of my early life.

Growing up in such a digital context made Gen Z people hypercognitive, and comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information. This generation is often regarded as “in search for the truth” because we believe that the truth presented as truth might not be the truth or might not be the whole truth. Or that there is maybe another truth. Crazy.

Gen Z entering the workforce as employees is widely discussed already, but what can we expect from them in leadership positions?

Tolerance & zero tolerance

The rise of social networks exposed the new generation to a great deal of different opinions, people, and influences. This exposure contributed to Gen Z’s freedom of expression, openness and understanding of different kinds of people. I see leaders of this generation being more tolerant towards different viewpoints emerging from their teams but also being completely intolerant towards for instance, workplace inequality or injustice. Instead of being silent supporters, I imagine Gen Z leaders actively speaking up and taking action towards inclusivity and equality in working life.

Lots of (un)successful experiments

Constantly evaluating the unprecedented amounts of influences comes with greater adaptability. Gen Z considers even their self as a place to experiment, test and change. I believe Gen Z leaders will not just allow experimentation, but they will encourage and lead their teams to test out things on a whole new level.

Higher EQ than IQ

This one might sound offensive. There is no evidence for Gen Z having less Intelligent Quotient but as information becomes more and more available, knowledge is becoming less of a key leadership skill. We need leaders who can inspire and connect with us, and I see this quality getting even more importance in the future. Effective Gen Z leaders will demonstrate not just IQ but a huge deal of emotional intelligence as well.

In 2020, I have been leading the operations and the Board of Xes Helsinki, an international entrepreneurship society headquartered at Haaga-Helia. Working with a multicultural and diverse team from all age groups has been a very rewarding experience, and it made me reflect on the importance of generational diversity at the workplace. I also got a chance to learn about creative leadership in practice and realize innovative solutions with my team in the face of changing situations.

If you are interested to hear what do Millennials and the Gen X think about generational differences and leadership, check out this panel I recently moderated at Xes Helsinki.