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How Generation X, Y, and Z Across the World See Leadership Differently

Today, there are more generations working together than at any point in modern history, primarily because people are living and working longer than in the past.

Recently, “Universum” surveyed three generations of current and future employees to study their needs, views, and competencies relating to workplace leadership. They analyzed responses by generation, gender and nation.

The survey scope and period included over 18,300 respondents from 19 nations, taken between July 22–Sept. 5, 2016. In short, it involved people from Generation X (born between 1965-1983), Generation Y (born between 1984-1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997-2002), which were high school students. Some Generation Y respondents were in the workforce and some were still college students.

A Summary of the Results:
Gender and Generational View of Leadership

I’d like to offer you highlights of the results for your use and enjoyment. Views on leadership varied, based on gender, generation and nation:

  • For Generation X, becoming a leader is less important than for younger generations. This could be because by their life station, they realize you don’t need a position in order to influence, or due to other priorities.
  • High school students were the most excited about becoming a leader compared to other generations, and they were especially excited about the idea of being a “people leader.” It was about relationships and service.
  • Gen Y students’ most cited motivation to lead was mentoring others, high responsibility and challenging work. Gen Y professionals’ most cited motivation to lead was mentoring others and high future earnings.
  • Both Generation Y and Generation Z see leadership as an important part of their future. They fear failure, but want to make an impact on communities and organizations. This element varied, based on nationalities.
  • USA’s Millennials and India’s Gen Z showed the most interest in being leaders. USA and India are more focused on leadership, regardless of what age group you ask. Leadership is seen as an exciting opportunity.
  • In some nations, such as France, interest level in leadership varies widely by generation. Interestingly, Nordic countries and Japan show the least interest in leadership because it represents a large source of stress.
  • People from Mexico, India, the USA., China and United Arab Emirates consistently showed the greatest interest in leadership across different generations, compared to other nations.
  • Attitudes about workplace leadership differ by generation, gender and nation —whether becoming a leader is desirable; what the motivation is; and what ideal leadership qualities are. Older respondents were more pragmatic.
  • There is sometimes a disconnect between what a manager considers to be good leadership (due to gender/generation) and what his/her team-members want from him/her as a leader. Different roles produce different views.
  • Female respondents reported wanting to be leaders to develop themselves and to help develop others on their team. Male respondents reported wanting to be leaders to tackle challenges and drive results.
  • The biggest detractors to leadership for Generation Y and Z are stress and the fear of failure. These two factors were true, regardless of gender or nation. Our young people have been raised with too much stress and a fear of making mistakes.
  • The highest interest in leadership was reported from the U.S.A., India, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, and China—across generations and only by Generation Y in France.

The good news is, more people want to be a servant-leaders among the two youngest generations than among the older generations. Generations Y and Z clearly perceive leadership as a legitimate place to make a difference and to improve the community in which they lead. Let’s go get them ready.


Order Now: Marching Off the Map

Our new book is now available! Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.

From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z

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How Generation X, Y, and Z Across the World See Leadership Differently