Understanding a particular generational cohort can be a daunting task as they consist of millions of people. However, generations have shared experiences and the common thread that binds all members of Gen Z, and perhaps sets them apart from previous ones, is an inherited world characterized from the very beginning by disruption, distraction, and disorder.
While such a backdrop sounds alarming, in reality it is an opportunity that can be seized upon and ultimately work in favor of Gen Z’ers who show potential in qualities like discipline, insight, and leadership. Those already displaying such features will be better positioned to thrive as further technological and economic disruption accelerates –which is to be expected since change is the one constant in this world.
Furthermore, Generation Z has the great advantage of observing the previous hardships of their older siblings and parents – many of whom made the necessary adjustments to cope with the effects of the Great Recession. With the combination of abundant and easily accessible information, the perspective gained from the hardships of those near and dear to them, and the unruly nature of their upbringing (i.e. volatility in the economy, government and politics, and the technological sphere), Gen Z is well equipped to come of age alongside varying examples of turbulence.
However, familiarity with the above does not guarantee success. This is especially true if dealing with a continued volatile environment which is to be expected from the rise of artificial intelligence and an increasingly globally competitive workforce, to name a couple.
So here is what Gen Z can do to better navigate and ensure a brighter future
No previous age cohort has consumed more information than Gen Z. This calls into question the serious problem of information overload as the result of a constant flow of data. While some worry about the tendency for today’s youth to look for the quick answer in the vast pool of information, the opposite is also true; a unique opportunity for learning at an earlier age of what works and what doesn’t. Put simply, there is a higher potential to develop a deeper insight at an earlier age.
Whereas previous generations had to rely more on counsel from parents, teachers, and other advisors, members of Gen Z are more likely to dig into a problem using their network and search tools first before seeking close advice. This is a double-edge sword with the negative side potentially leading to failure as the result of impatience and information overload. However, any expert on leadership will remind us that failure is often an important ingredient for success.
Finally, with much attention in the news today about social justice warriors (many of whom belong to Gen Z) and their call to action for immediate change – sometimes in sophomoric ways – many of us who recall similar experiences during early adulthood now look back on how easy it was to demand instant change all the while overlooking what needed immediate improvement – ourselves. The need for such a realization should not be seen as a knock, and while initially a humbling experience, it can better serve those who desire to be agents of change. After conquering any number of flaws, one is in a much better position to demonstrate what they had personally undergone – transformation.
With Gen Z already well acquainted with volatility, there is potential for many in this cohort to develop insight at an earlier age. And with close attention to honing skills such as not giving way to impatience in search of a quick answer, how to sift through the vast pool of data to find the meaningful answer, and a heavy emphasis on personal development in terms of skills and character; Gen Z will be well positioned to navigate the future, one they are arguably already familiar with – disruption, distraction, and disorder.
Stay tuned for major research we’ll publish from John Zogby Strategies LLC that compares all generations alive today on key topics/opposing attitudes.
Jeremy Zogby is Partner at John Zogby Strategies LLC