Who is going to teach Generation Z and Generation Alpha to be leaders?

My husband attended an education-themed conference in Auckland last week (January 2019).  He teaches sales and marketing part time at a tertiary college. He came home enthusing about a vibrant young speaker on the topic of Generation Z – which despite his vocation was a new term to him. Generation Z refers to those who are currently between the ages of 16 and 23. Said young speaker turned out to be one of my Path of the Lion (EnQ) Graduates from 2016. Apart from hoping my work was of some positive influence on her journey I was most struck by my husbands’ reaction to her topic and the insights associated with this generation.

“I realised during her talk that there is no place for old dinosaurs like me anymore. We don’t know how the kids of today think or what they want,” he commented as he went on to talk about the other topics such as youth brain development and the realities of digital overload on students today. This statement raises the question – are we (all those over the age of 23) still relevant as teachers, influencers and guides to the generations now destined to become our future leaders?

The answer is yes. Things have changed but there are still critical areas of influence in which we are needed, over and above just our knowledgebase;

      1. Teaching passion – my husband also teaches drumming to all ages. Two days after the “disheartening” conference experience he arrived home filled to the brim with pride as one of his drumming students had just received 92% for this Grade 8 drumming exam. The skill that he had managed to pass along to this student was his “feel” for drumming. It is this “feel” that my husband has which has made him a popular drummer with rock bands, jazz bands and pipe bands for as long as he has been playing. He knows how to place his passion and his connection into the mix of drumming rudiments. He recognises the same passion and connection in his students (not all have it) and grows this alongside the basics of drumming techniques for them. We all have sources of passion and connection that we can pass on and grow within those we guide. We just need to think more consciously about what they are when we feel the generation gap expanding.

      2. Guiding students on what is good for them. Move over Generation Z – whilst the last letter of the alphabet implies that we have reached the end of the line in terms of new generations, Australian social researcher, Mark McCrindle has gone back to A with his term, Generation Alpha. This term refers to kids under 10 who are powerful influencers in terms of family buying decisions. McCrindle notes that the two things Generation Alpha want most are devices and screen time. Who is going to guide the devices and content of the screen time made available to this generation? Hopefully, we are. (Apparently, this generation is watching way less Television which is something).

      3. Teaching students about who they are. I was recently accepted to complete my Doctorate of Professional Practice in Entrepreneurial Intelligence over the next 3 years. The selection process included an online interview with a panel of academic professors to establish how I plan to use and grow my EnQ expertise to contribute more meaningfully to academic research and the existing body of knowledge. To illustrate my specific area of interest I told them about how I address my younger audiences as an advocate of entrepreneurial thinking. I start off by asking these students to identify the most important ingredient to their career and/or business path. Answers include all the usual suspects such as communication, good people, cash flow and marketing. I then ask them if they would all get the same results from their career/business venture if they were all given the same business plan, the same amount of funding and the same set of circumstances. The collective and decisive answer back from them is a resounding NO –  because they are all different. So the most important ingredient to any career or business venture is surely themselves. They all agree that the person they learn the least about during their formative and educational years is themselves. Suddenly the 95% entrepreneurial failure rate and the fact that over 80% of people (according to Gallup) are disengaged and in the wrong vocations makes more sense. Self-awareness is a massive gap in our education system. It’s a small thing and doesn’t take long to teach. But its effect to a career is much like the baking powder to a cake.

      4. Mentoring students to be leaders. Effective leadership starts with self-awareness and self-leadership. Experience, perspective, insight, wisdom and mentor connections play a much bigger role in this type of learning than devices and screen time ever will. The point of my doctoral study is focused on how to do this effectively and I look forward to expanding my work and influence here.

    We play a significant role for those we are teaching and mentoring to understand more about who they are and how to become leaders. We don’t all have to be experts at what they will be learning and how they think – but we do need to help them to become experts at who they are – so they can effectively navigate their own futures and influences on the future generations.

    At EnQPractice we work directly with schools to assist with your students and teachers leadership programmes. If we can be of any assistance to you in this regard with one of our 4-hour workshops which are run affordably and conveniently at your school by a certified EnQ facilitator, please do not hesitate to get in touch. These workshops are suitable for students from the ages of 12 and all academic staff. One of my youngest graduates from late 2018 wrote about her experience of our workshop for student leaders “I learned so much about myself today and I am so very grateful to have had this experience”. Caitlin. T

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