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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

How So-Called “Leaders” Flunk with Gen Z

A group of Gen Z against a brick wall

Senior leaders come with experience, credentials, and perhaps community prestige. However, do not discount Gen Z at your peril. These young people want a place at the table and do not hesitate to share ideas and insights. In fact, fresh eyes can detect possibilities and problems that might be overlooked by a seasoned “leader”. 

Do Gen Z Opinions Matter?

That’s an insight I got in talking to two Gen Z’s—ages 27 and 25.  The 27-year-old has a Master’s in public administration and is working on a counseling certification. She operates under a grant to assist high school seniors in lower socio-economic regions navigate their way into “what’s next” after high school.  The program has seen a rapid turnover of managers, and the new head of the program has never even come into the schools to understand and observe the work. This new “leader” has plenty of paper credentials and has served on major boards but truly doesn’t understand the world of the students.  The Gen Z employee has offered advice but is discounted. Hmmm.

The 25-year-old has a Master’s in sustainability and currently works in handling corporate clients in the horticulture field. She shook her head in disgust when she said how much money is wasted and systems are broken. “However, no one wants to hear from me,” she shrugged.

Nurture the Future

Both Gen Z’s are looking for other positions.  What a waste.  A smart leader would step out of the senior halls and seek the front line.  Ask questions, listen intently, and take notes.  Show appreciation for their interest. Tell the Gen Z what will do with what you hear. And if there are impediments to following up on their input, let the Gen Z know and why.

You are growing the future.


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