Nine Leadership Traits We See in Generation Z

This past month, even more protestors got arrested by Hong Kong police. You likely saw the story on the news. But do you understand what’s really going on?

Technically, Hong Kong belongs to China but is under an agreement calledOne Country, Two Systems.” Mainland China is very authoritarian. Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region and is supposed to enjoy democratic freedoms such as the right to vote, free speech, freedom of the press, and to conduct free enterprise.

And many of the protestors are young. There are students as young as 11 years old.

These students are the first population to grow up under the one country, two systems arrangement, and in about 25 years, when Hong Kong falls completely under Chinese rule, they will be the professionals. They know the future is supposed to belong to them. They have the most to gain and the most to lose.

This is a growing mindset among Generation Z.

These Students Are Pictures of Generation Z

Much like the student protestors sparked by the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who mobilized 400,000 other students nationwide, these Chinese protestors do not seem to be afraid to pay a price for the future they want. Since June 2019, more than 750 students under the age of 18 have been arrested.

As I survey the kinds of causes Generation Z students have undertaken, I see a pattern. Not in everyone, to be sure, but in many cases, kids worldwide feel empowered by their portable devices, by social media, and by an awareness of what could be and should be enjoyed by all: social justice—equal rights and voice. Allow me to provide terms that describe a generation of emerging leaders who are doing more to change their world than any population since the Baby Boomers in the 1960s. It’s quite breathtaking.

Look for These Nine Characteristics:

1. They are Activists

Leadership is about visible activism, even protests, offering more than words.

2. They are Futurists

They believe that tomorrow belongs to them and they want to seize it.

3. They are Catalysts

Their leadership intends to ignite change, often embracing a contrarian view.

4. They are Lobbyists

They aren’t afraid to petition for their desires or demands until they see results.

5. They are Optimists

They possess a picture of a preferred future that could be and should be done.

6. They are Pragmatists

They are more practical and resourceful as teens than in previous generations.

7. They are Specialists

They find their cause to focus upon and a niche population in which to interface.

8. They are Enthusiasts

Their passion is often unbridled, and this energy makes up for their inexperience.

9. They are Strategists

Their game plan may lack specificity, but they plan to improve the world long term.

What We Can Do to Lead Them Well

We will find out whether or not they are finalists—meaning people who finish what they start. The gifts that Generation Z students need from their leaders are:

  1. Long-term perspective. We must help them plan and anticipate the outcomes of their actions.
  2. Equipping. We must develop their people skills and train them in strategic thinking.
  3. Encouragement of their dreams. We must offer hope to them and believe in them.

The Wall Street Journal summarized the China situation this way: “Young people drive protest movements across the globe, but the extreme youthfulness of Hong Kong’s protests has alarmed Chinese and local officials. Though college campuses have been the scenes of violent confrontations, the fight is rapidly spreading into high schools, where a new type of front line is emerging. More than a third of 4,000 protesters arrested are age 20 and younger, according to police records. Among those, dozens are 14 or younger. The youngest protester arrested is 11.”

Ready or not, here comes Generation Z. Let’s equip them to lead us well.

Nine Leadership Traits We See in Generation Z