Inspiring Generation Z with Transformational Leadership

I was stuck right in the middle. I brought a group of GEN Y and GEN Z college students on a service trip involving our faith. The coordinator for our service project was a good man with great intentions for the team. However, he managed the group as an authoritarian leader with a  militaristic top-down approach. Feedback and input were not necessarily desired. While I was accustomed to this style and could adjust, this leadership style did not resonate well with the young members of the group.

He conveyed to me that the students complained too much about the circumstances while the younger members complained about the leader not listening or caring about them. The relationship could have gone south. I provided each group a different perspective about each other. The leader attempted to make changes, including asking for my input from the group and the young members responded by acknowledging his attempt to build bridges. From that point, the group was able to achieve more and have a better relationship within the group. The situation reaffirmed to me the importance of understanding generational issues and how to inspire younger generations toward great performance.

In today’s organizations, they face an arsenal of disruptive change and chaos all around us.

Disruptive change speaks the changing nature of our society. In fact, our extensive experience about the past can haunt us in a world riddled with uncertainty. Having young employees who are technologically savvy and adaptable to these environmental climates could help an organization succeed. Yet, many executives do not know how to recruit, retain, or to inspire these young generations.    

As a result, organizations that wish to compete today must understand how to inspire Generation Z employees for sustainable success. However, this task is not easy. When Generation Y (aka Millennials) entered the workplace for the first time, some managers were given bad advice. The advice included telling managers to praise Millennials regardless of their performance, reward them for just showing up to work, put hand-held devices in the hands (and get out their way), and allow them come to work whenever they want to (allow them to bring their puppies). In this scenario, the workplace becomes a magical place where every workday is filled with fun and excitement.

That advisement was misleading and created unrealistic expectations of the workplace and resentment from older generations. What organization can afford to get Generation Z wrong under this global landscape?  Thus, understanding generational issues can assist managers with a multi-generation workforce and lead them toward greater performance as a team. In this discussion, I will examine how today’s organization can inspire Generation Z employees with transformational leadership.

Today’s businesses cannot afford to overlook Generation Z. For the first time in history, five generations are co-existing together in the workplace. Each generation has distinct attributes, such as belief systems, expectations, and behaviors. Managing Generation Z will not be easy. Generation Z is the most global, diverse, technological, and entrepreneurial generation ever. In fact, they have never known a digital world without smartphones and social media. In general, they were born in 1995 and after. This generation makes up about 26% of the U.S. population. Each generation is shaped by parenting and its social environment. Managers should not merely lump Generation Y and Generation Z in the same category. Some experts note that Generation Z is more focused than Generation Y or Millennials.

Forbes contributor Deep Patel in his article “8 Ways Generation Z Will Differ From Millennials In The Workplace” notes that Generation Z are more independent thinkers than Generation Y. He adds, “While millennials are often seen as more idealistic, and more motivated by purpose than a paycheck, Generation Z may lean more toward security and money. This is a pragmatic generation — they care about making a difference, but are ultimately motivated by ensuring they have a secure life outside of work. If you’re looking to recruit members of Generation Z, you may be able to tempt them with promises of job security and raises down the line.” Given the unique characteristics of Generation Z, employers cannot afford to use the same old recruitment and retention strategies on this younger generation.

Dr. Green reads to Generation Z students at Revelation Ministries in Cape Town, South Africa.

In this unstable environment, organizations need the right type of leadership for Generation Z employees. These younger employees will tend to respond better with transformational leadership than a transactional leadership style. In a nutshell, all managers are not leaders. Some managers are great at defining tasks and having the employees work toward that goal. They rule by their position in the organization. Otherwise, no one would follow them. In fact, these same managers are lousy at inspiring their employees. In transactional leadership, individuals lead others in an ‘exchange’ of work for rewards/punishment. If employees completed the assigned work scope, they would be compensated with wages, full employment, or other benefits; likewise, if they do not perform, they could be punished or fired.

Dr. Green attempted to connect with Generation Z students at Revelation Ministries in Cape Town, South Africa.

Whereas transactional leadership rarely produce zealots who are inspired in organizations, transformational leadership has the ability of getting the greater buy-in of followers. In the simplest sense, transformational leadership can be defined ‘as a leadership approach that causes a change in individuals and social systems…it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.” Generation Z employees need leaders who can connect with them and inspire them toward greater achievements. Generation Z are realistic and concerned about their safety and the world. Some would call them anxious. According to one study, 58% of Gen Z’s are either somewhat or very worried about the future. Below are some interesting statistics on Generation Z:

  • 66% say that technology makes them feel that anything is possible.
  • 76% feel that their online experiences will help them reach their goals.
  • 79% display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices.
  • 72% of Gen Z want to start a business someday.
  • 30% feel their college has failed at teaching them applicable real-life business skills.

Leadership guru Dr. Richard Daft argues that transactional leadership may not be enough in a disruptive, changing world: “Transactional skills are important for all leaders. However, in a world in which success often depends on continuous change, organizations also need transformational leadership…Transformational leadership is based on the personal values, beliefs, and qualities of the leader rather than on an exchange process between leaders and followers. Given the generational characteristics of Generation Z and the need for success in organizations, the following suggestions are offered to lead this generation:

  • Create a shared vision within the organization.
  • Get to know employees, especially newer ones in the organization.
  • Define goals, objectives, and desired objectives, making boundaries clear.
  • Ask for feedback when appropriate and follow-up on the endpoint.
  • Show how each person is valued within the organization.
  • Seek to inspire employees by tapping into their intrinsic rewards.
  • Build teamwork in the organization with group incentives (i.e., bonuses).

With continual pressures to compete, today’s businesses need to have employees who are adaptable to disruptive changes. In our society, there are 5 generations that co-exist in the workplace. Perhaps, Generation Z with its diversity and ingenuity may be the best of all generations. Yet, managers who do not understand Generation Z employees may not be able to get the most out of them. In our discussion today, I outlined how today’s organization can inspire Generation Z employees with transformational leadership.  Unlike transactional leaders, transformational leaders must tap into their followers to find what motives them. Working with Generation Z employees will pose the same type of challenges. With change continuing to be more rapid and unpredictable, today’s organizations cannot hope to succeed without getting the best out of each employee. We pray that it is not too late to inspire Generation Z in your own organizations.

Please share your insight on this topic.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

About Dr. Daryl Green:
Dr. Daryl Green provides consulting, guidance, and management training for today’s business leaders. He is the Dickinson Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University. In 2016, he retired as a senior engineer and program manager with the Department of Energy after a successful career. Dr. Green has over 25 years of management experience and has been noted and quoted by USA Today, Ebony Magazine, and Associated Press. For more information, please visit http://www.drdarylgreen.com.

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10 Steps To Spot Unethical Leaders

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Have you seen the number of scandals in today’s organizations?  Government! Business! Non-profit organizations! Religious entities! No institution is exempted.  But—followers of these organizations deserve better!

Sadly, many employees chuckle at their bosses when they lecture them about ethical behavior in their organizations (typically because their management is not…ethical).  With the continual unethical behavior patterns of several leaders, today’s workers are more cynical about their leaders than ever.  In today’s discussion, we will evaluate how to spot unethical leaders in organizations. Continue reading

Retiring Early: Planning Out Your Exit Strategy

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“I was ready! In my early 40s, I started thinking about retiring early. I sat through my organization’s mid-career retirement classes and had gotten several retirement estimates (i.e., different retirement years). I had kept myself marketable by continuing to take advantage of career opportunities and obtaining additional education in my professional field. Some co-workers mocked me because they said any scholarly education would not advance my career.

Yet, I felt that professional growth and a continual learning mindset would only increase my value in the market. I had developed an exit strategy. Working with my friend (Dr. Gary Roberts), I had mapped out a future purpose in academia. I could fully utilize my professional experience while at the same time applying my other skill sets. However, things did not work out as planned. The time and opportunities did not align with my plans. In fact, it took 9 years and more than 200 job applications for the exit strategy to work. Because I was patient and adaptable, God opened up a door, which was much better than my initial plan. Having an exit strategy was invaluable!” 

Are you happy with your current job? In general, US employees are satisfied with their work life. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, about half (49%) of American workers say they are very satisfied with their current job. Yet, 30% of them are somewhat satisfied, and the remainder says they are slightly dissatisfied (9%) or very dissatisfied (6%). Continue reading

Good Content in a Digital World

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With this quick pace of technology and increasing access to information, the world is a land of opportunities for those who have the knowledge. An individual in the 21st century has the opportunities to influence millions of people across the globe. Unfortunately, many do not know how to do it. With the rapid fire of social media interaction and engagement, businesses need to know how to write great content in order to sustain success. The internet has made it necessary for online platforms to keep fresh content or customers will eventually dismiss them from relevancy. You don’t think content matters? Below are some digital statistics to observe:

• 92% of online consumers don’t intend to buy during a first visit
• Nearly half of consumers won’t spend time with branded content if it’s not relevant to their interests
• 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies
• 88% of consumers say that, personally, relevant content improves how they feel about a brand
• 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading their custom content

With that said, customers will not come to your website or your social platforms if your content (i.e., articles, videos, or podcasts) aren’t any good. Therefore, individuals need to be strategic about their content.

Businesses need to write good content that matters to their constituency. With that said, organizations should think in the best interest of its target audience. When I wrote my first book My Cup Runneth Over: Setting Goals for Single Parents and Working Couples, my goal was to assist working families with the issues of how to balance work and family. I had a lot of experience with this subject being a working parent.

I wrote lots of content on this subject and got plenty of attention from the media. People were amazed at my publishing accomplishments. It changed my life. I was asked to speak at events. Co-workers wanted my advice. The audience wanted to listen to my messages. Since that time, I have given insights to thousands of people.

This new market success was due primarily because my content was focused on a critical problem that appealed to a specific group of people. In fact, becoming an author is one of the quickest ways to be recognized as an expert in a field or industry. Sadly, many businesses undervalue a well-written piece.

Content marketing allows businesses to develop content relevant to their audience. Content marketing can be defined as “a form of non-traditional marketing communications whereby a brand produces or designs contents in various forms (e.g., text, images, video, audio) and disseminates that content to targeted audiences or customers.”

Today’s marketers understand that good content is essential for their brand awareness and market sustainability. In fact, marketers like to utilize content marketing in social media platforms for the following reasons: (a) High level of control over content design; (b) Low cost of content dissemination; (c) Increased opportunities for audience interactivity and engagement; and (d) Increased opportunities for real-time feedback.

Jeff Larson and Stuart Draper, authors of Digital Marketing Essentials, argue that customers do take notice of content on organizations’ websites. They explain, “For good or ill, consumers are talking online about companies’ brands. Online review sites, directories, social media sites, Wikipedia, blogs, and forums all allow users to express their opinions about a brand… This content can appear in so many places online that it is impossible to monitor this conversation by visiting each site and sifting through the billions of comments left by web users.”

Given the high risk of failure, businesses should not be careless in creating content for their customers. If individuals do not have the talent nor the foresight for developing content, they should consider to just contract this talent out. Even when businesses have the necessary skill set, they must make sure their content is effective and efficient.

Video (Click Here)

In the book Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing, the authors stress the importance of good content: “Customers are online and looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems. It’s up to you to grab customers first (and make no mistake – the competition from other companies trying to do just that is huge.” The authors offer the following steps to create great content for customers:

• Focus on your specific target audience.
• Solve the problems that your customers care about.
• Become a trusted source to address their problems.
• Write fresh content.
• Make it easy for them to shop with you.

With the high stakes for today’s businesses, organizations can stand out in the crowd with good content on all of their social media platforms. Adding content marketing into a seller’s arsenal of marketing tools can provide relevant, useful content to customers. This article demonstrated that good content is essential in a digital world.

Today’s marketers are constantly developing content to meet the needs of their constituents. If companies do not take the development of good content seriously, they will not be able to compete with a more demanding and engaged customer base. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

Activate An Effective Personal Brand

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Ben was stuck in his dead-end job as a waiter at the local restaurant in town. By day, he was known as the nicest, more courteous server in the area. By night, Ben attended a local college with the ambition of starting his own social media serves. Ben understood stereotypes and bias. People had the tenacity to put individuals in pigeon holes with their biases. Therefore, Ben started building his online personality with writing insightful articles about social media and running a video blog. He wrote an e-book about social media that received Internet acclaim.

He quietly started a radio talk show. With his persistence, Ben started seeing his effort pay. The restaurant was packed with a bus of college students headed to a convention. Ben was helping out the servers with the big crowd. Suddenly, there was a big commotion in the crowd that involved Ben. Another server came to get the owner about this situation. The owner was afraid that Ben had done something wrong. He didn’t. These college students from out of town were overwhelmed with excitement in meeting the online celebrity “Ben the eWriter.” His online presence had repositioned his personal brand. 

With the impact of the Internet and social media platforms, like Facebook, working professionals can reenergize or rebrand themselves in a matter of minutes. In fact, individuals can actually reposition themselves into new careers with the right strategies.  In today’s job market, people need to understand the concepts of personal branding and how to develop their own personal strategy for employment.  In this discussion, we will examine the concept of personal branding. Individuals will learn how to reenergize yourself and make gain more influence in the process. 

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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The Future of Digital Marketing – Small Business Help

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Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

  • 96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • 51% of Americans prefer to shop online.
  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).
  • 51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!

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Disruptive Change: How Leaders Navigate Uncertainty

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As companies continue to wage war with global competition and attempt to figure out their next steps due to advanced technologies, organizations are dealing with unpredictable change that is disruptive. In fact, disruptive change is impacting everyone in all walks of life, from Wall Street to entertainment. The casualties of disruptive change are evident.

In a statement to the Associated Press about joining a Silicon Valley boardroom, Serena Williams said, “I feel like diversity is something I speak to. Change is always happening. Change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of change and to make it easier for the next person.”   we will examine disruptive change and what leaders can do to navigate the resulting uncertainties.

Disruptive change is wrecking traditional thinking of industries and institutions. Long-standing organizations have long attempted to maintain the status quo, allowing flagship institutions like Harvard University and Princeton lead the pack. Non-traditional institutions, like the University of Phoenix, were frowned upon by academics because it was a for-profit university growing by using non-traditional models like online learning.

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New Product Development Strategies

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With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[1] Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail. Continue reading

Cultural Intelligence: How Leaders Can Navigate the Racial Divide in America

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In June of 1995, the Jury in the OJ Simpson trial announced a verdict of not guilty. The aftermath of dismal reactions highlighted significant conflicts and diverging views in America’s workplaces. In fact, white and black people had a different perspective on the OJ Simpson Trial and life in general. Eighty-three percent of whites stated that Simpson was “definitely” or “probably” guilty while only fifty-seven percent of blacks agreed with this assessment. Rather than carefully assessing one’s own viewpoint when evaluating a different culture, most individuals make assumptions about other cultures definitely.

Sadly, we still have not learned this lesson in the United States. The last several days have been very hectic as I try to answer students’ questions and address my own concerns about a recent Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary gaff that has provided another headwind for others sharing the Good News. Let me say that we have all done foolish things and have suffered the consequences. Most of us have had to debase the impacts of this photo on our popular culture to our students and others.

In the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth (TX), five seminary professors, including the dean of the School of Preaching, put on gangster-style clothing (perhaps dressing like urban rappers), flashing their gold chains and one holding a handgun. Written above the photo were the words “Notorious S.O.P,” which was a reference to the seminary’s School of Preaching and to the black rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-photo

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