Reading Pew Research Center survey results helps understand generational shifts underway. As with any snapshot in time, it is just a point in time. However, connected snapshots deliver some understanding of what Millennials and Generation Z are thinking and doing. The latest is no different.
Millennials and Generation Z Current Research
Before reviewing the research, the generation definitions (although generational definitions are not an exact science):
- Millennials: Born 1981 through 1996
- Generation Z: Born 1997 or later
Several statistics standout in the current research on Millennials and Generation Z. They include:
- About 30 percent of Millennials and Generation Z approve of the current president, a lower percentage than older generations
- Millennials and Generation Z are more likely to say Blacks are treated more unfairly in the United States and most approve of NFL players kneeling during that national anthem
- 39 percent of Gen Zers believe getting news from social media is a bad thing, compared to about half of older generations
- Gen Z Republicans are more likely than older generation Republicans to say that government should do more to solve problems
- Both Gen Z and Millennials say that we should be more accepting of gender diversity, and a majority of all generations are excited about more women getting involved in politics
- Majorities across all generations believe that legal immigration has been a positive impact on the United States
Key Generational Shifts
From the research, we can imagine three key shifts.
Today, a certain segment seems to be threatened by a diversity of individuals. Rather than accepting who people are or what different experiences can offer, boundaries become the inclination rather than understanding. This will change. Millennials and Generation Z know differently and are willing to engage differences. We cannot thrive in segments, but we can succeed with a diversity of backgrounds, countries, experiences, opinions, and thinking.
Government as a problem solver
Government is not the problem, although too many seem to believe this. In making society work, it takes good government, good business, good charitable organizations, and good citizens. What may be the challenge with the government is that many of the agencies and programs were designed and implemented many decades ago. What was good in the New Deal or the Great Society may not apply today or needs to be modernized to better meet the changes underway. Generation Z and Millennials see the role government can play (and should play) in helping guide us to be a better society than before.
Why should someone’s gender or living preferences matter? If we meet the standard of being good citizens (e.g., betterment), then we should be able to be accepting. What some in the older generations have realized is that if a family member is different from us, do we ditch the family member or love them? Most choose to love them. Others need to understand that love is about growth, understanding, acceptance, and how we can make each other better in our thoughts and actions. Seeing that Millennials and Generation Z will better enable this approach is exciting and needed.
How to empower diversity within organizational cultures
The leadership challenge is to welcome and engage our diversity to gain the best out of everyone. By getting the best out of everyone, we are engaging experiences and ideas, sorting through what rises to the top, and then determining how to bring the best plans to action. If ever common ground training and skills are needed, it is in this area. The diversity of individuals requires good common ground practices.
How government and business work together
The leadership challenge is to create a collaborative economy, and we have a long way to go. Business plays a role. Some business leaders are stepping up on gun control, climate change, gender discrimination, and pay equity. Their actions are incomplete and imperfect, but some progress is being made. Some understand that government needs to play a progressive role, and more is demonstrated by city and state leaders than federal. Many big conversations on the future of work are happening. However, the leadership challenge is to move beyond the talk and begin to collaborate on key issues that need to be resolved sooner rather than later.
Millennials and Generation Z are inclined to call on government leaders to be problem-solvers. We cannot afford to wait, so getting involved in the political arena, along with the business arena, is a necessity (and a challenge). The only way to begin is to begin.
How to create openness beyond office space
We spend way too much time talking about office space. Whether open or not, what matters more is the space we create to collaborate, think through problems, and join together to pursue progress. We need space for progress. The leadership challenge is to bring different people together and improve from where we are today. We learn from history, but we create a better future history. Leaders need to create a better future history.
A Necessary Generational Mindshift
Through each leadership challenge, moral courage is required. The new leadership mindset needs to be one of engaging diversity, collaborating between business and government, and creating open space for acceptance. We need a courageous mindset grounded in ethical actions and a future-orientation.