Friday, October 19, 2018

Developing Trust as a Gen Z Leader

This month in our STAR Leadership program we have been focusing on the importance of building TRUST as a successful leader. Today, it seems more than ever, we can get confused about what a true leader is. We may believe that a leader is someone who has the most friends, has the most likes on a post, or even has the most views on a video. We can confuse leadership with popularity, and one doesn't necessarily equate to the other. Being a successful leader requires trust between the leader and those who follow. Not blind trust, but deep seeded faith in the leader and his or her decision-making ability. It is trust that is not earned by votes or fans. Our STAR Leaders dove deep into the following character values that are pertinent to establishing trust as a leader: Integrity Integrity means doing the right thing, no matter the consequences. Some have said it is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It is having standards, even higher standards than most and living up to them. Generation Z is already more purpose-driven and that is a good baseline for integrity. Maintaining integrity involves making the right decisions more often. When one has an ability to determine who is authentic and who is fake, it helps weed out those who may be a threat to integrity. Honesty Honesty starts with being your true self. It is dishonest to try to be someone you are not or to say things to get attention or approval. It actually can be a relief to not have to hide who you really are. Honesty is being honest in your actions and being upfront with what you believe. Keep in mind, however, hurting people through actions or words is not a sign of honesty in leadership. Honesty can also be earned by being unselfish and having a focus on others. It can be strengthened by being empathetic and creating habits of being a good listener. Loyalty Loyalty takes commitment and perseverance. It is earned through consistency in the values listed above, integrity and honesty. Consistency is an area that is difficult for Gen Zers as they live in a digital, social and mobile world where they are used to getting quick results. If results don’t happen quick, this generation has trouble sticking with it. The good news however is that Generation Z leans towards more conservative and traditional values. With the right guidance and support system, these kids can strengthen their values in loyalty by creating solid habits consistently and seeing the value in their results. Reliability Reliability is earned and established by a pattern of consistent behavior. Reliability is living up to commitments even when you don't want to. It is doing what you say you are going to do. It is being timely. When people can count on you, you are building the foundation as a leader. There are no “cheats”, hacks or shortcuts. Every day there are opportunities, some big and some small, to exercise reliability as a true leader. As an educator and parent of the kids of Generation Z, I have found that they are like sponges. When exposed to these character values in the way they receive information, they get excited. The “light bulb” comes on and they love to jump into conversation on their experiences and ideas. I am so optimistic of this amazing generation! What they need from us as adults is for us to serve as a compass. We can take responsibility for our next generation of leaders and provide opportunities, examples, and guidance. We can all then, have renewed faith in our future.