Leadership of the Generation Z. What will be the challenges for companies in the future?

Scientific analysis of the demographic development and the generation concept

Term Paper, 2017

18 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

I. Table of Contents

II. Executive Summary

III. List of Figures

IV. List of Tables

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Background
2.1 Definition of Leadership
2.2 Leadership Models
2.3 Generation Concept
2.3.1 Definition of Generation Z
2.3.2 Comparison of Generation Z to Generation Y

3. Alignment of Leadership theory to the Generation Z

4. Critical Reflection, Conclusion and future outlook

5. List of References

II. Executive Summary

The following assignment will consist of an overview of the theoretical background as well as the adoption of the theory regarding the generation concept and the leadership theory to the leadership challenges of the generation Z.

Starting with the general aspects of leadership, the assignment shows different theories coming from Kurt Lewin and his three general classifications and going a bit more in detail then regarding modern leadership styles. In addition, the aspect of the differentiation between management and leadership is considered.

This part is followed by the general definition of the generation concept, which differentiates groups regarding several aspects. The main focus is the birth-generation, where the year of birth is the aspect which segments into the respective generation. In addition, the fact is shown that the generation concept is a useable approach, but has its weaknesses as well.

In the next part, the generation Z is defined and analyzed, which shows the picture that the generation Z behaves different than previous generations and thereof has some specialties. To get a better picture, this is followed by a short comparison of the generation Y and the generation Z, where on some aspects the differences are shown.

The theory-praxis transfer is the alignment of the leadership theory with the generation concept focused on the generation Z. This alignment shows that there are a lot of aspects which need to be considered regarding leadership with the generation Z. Future leaders should be aware of that, because the expectations from typical generation Z people regarding leadership differs compared to previous generations. One example is a clear work-life separation, which was not the major expectation of the previous generations.

The assignment is closed with a critical reflection, which shows some weaknesses of the general approach of the generation concept and also some issues regarding common leadership and the resulting challenges for companies. The future outlook touches shortly what needs to be considered by companies to improve the leadership of their leaders and to attract well-educated people from the generation Z.

III. List of Figures

Figure 1: Generation Chart

IV. List of Tables

Table 1: Comparison Generation Y to Generation Z

1. Introduction

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”(Northouse, 2013). This sentence from Peter G. Northouse points out quite good what the key aspect of leadership is all about. Generally speaking, you need something to lead and it is, in most cases, about a group of people. You cannot touch the topic leadership without touching the topic of individuals, because this is a core aspect of leadership theory. Related to the topic of individuals is the area of the generation concept. The core task of this assignment will be to find an answer for the question, what the future challenges will be especially for HR departments, but also for future leaders, to deal with the Generation Z, which is entering the employment market since the past years. The approach is done by using scientific sources to first define the general aspects of leadership, followed by an evaluation of the general aspects regarding the generation concept. After this, the specific aspects of the generation Z will be applied to the theory followed by the key outcome regarding the research question. In addition, a short comparison between generation Z and the well-known generation Y will show significant differences. The work will be concluded by a critical reflection of the current knowledge about the generation Z regarding leadership and a future outlook on the challenges on this topic.

2. Theoretical Background

The first part will consist of a theoretical background on the one hand regarding the general topic of leadership and on the other hand of an overview about the generation concept and specifically about the generation Z.

2.1 Definition of Leadership

In general, there exist several definitions of leadership. One which is most fitting is the above mentioned opener of Peter G. Northouse. One approach is to make a retro perspective view on famous leaders in the past and look on their achievements(Gosling, Jones, & Sutherland, 2012, p. XVII). This method has to be considered carefully, because the styles of leadership developed during the years and decades and former successful leaders maybe used styles and methods which would not be fitting into the current requirement of leadership and, related to the topic, especially not fitting to upcoming challenges resulted in a new generation and thereof new requirements on leaders.

One fact which is quite clear is that leadership is one of the most interesting and developing aspects in social sciences and therefore has a high research attention on it (Day & Antonakis, 2012, p. 4). In general, all leadership methods and styles have the similarity that it is about an influencing process between a leader and at least one follower to achieve a common goal. In addition, leadership differentiates from the general aspects of “power” and “management”, which is often related to leadership, but in general has to be viewed in a different way. Power in general refers to the ways leaders have to potentially influence other people. Examples are e.g. expertise or the formal power to reward or punish performance. It has to be viewed separately, but nevertheless the ability to lead someone requires that an individual has power (Day & Antonakis, 2012, p. 5). Regarding the separation from management, the general differentiation can be that leadership is a purpose-driven action and based on emotional exchanges, values etc. while management is objective-driven and consists e.g. of fulfillment of contractual needs. To summarize, leadership is more people-focused, while management is more task-focused (Day & Antonakis, 2012, p. 5).

Leadership can be divided in several parts, e.g. the differentiation between structural-systematic leadership (individual) and the personnel-interactive leadership (direct)(Wunderer, 2003, p. 5ff).

2.2 Leadership Models

Leadership models and scientific overview differentiate regarding detailed level of information and clustering of different styles. One common leadership classification and overview is based on a psychologist called Kurt Lewin and goes back to the 1930´s. They are also called the “classical leadership styles”. This model separates between three different leadership styles without any detailed differentiation.

The three classical leadership classifications are the following.

- Authority leadership – Leader decides, no cooperation and possible influence by followers
- Cooperative Leadership – Followers are included in decision making processes, delegation concept possible, results in more understanding between leader and followers
- Laissez-Faire Leadership – Nearly no control and full flexibility of followers, decision making and delegation is done by the group(Zell, 2016)


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Leadership of the Generation Z. What will be the challenges for companies in the future?
Scientific analysis of the demographic development and the generation concept
University of applied sciences, Cologne
Soft Skills and Leadership Methods
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
970 KB
Leadership, Generation Z, Leadership Methods, Ledership concept, generation concept, Generation, Leadership development
Quote paper
Andreas Mehren (Author), 2017, Leadership of the Generation Z. What will be the challenges for companies in the future?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/358298


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