Young leadership: Why the younger generation doesn’t want to take a leadership position – and what young bosses can change

Fewer and fewer young people want to work in a management position – yet young leadership offers many advantages. What can companies do to inspire Generation Z and Y to join the executive suite? How can “old” managers inspire the “young” ones? And above all, how can both benefit from each other?

Table of Content

Why the young generation doesn’t want to be a boss

The young generation of the working world aspires to the executive floor less and less often: Only about 40% of men and 30% of women would like to be in the boss’s chair at some point – according to a survey commissioned by the “Initiative Chefsache (Germany)” But what is the reason for this?

Generational differences in the working world

The Millennial generation and their successors have grown up in a completely different world than their parents. They have witnessed the impact that technology, globalization and economic instability have had on their lives – and are therefore much more skeptical than older generations. This is another reason why their values have changed: Flexibility, autonomy and work-life balance are more important than ever to the younger generation. 

Traditional management concepts

As a result of this change in values, young people are less inclined to work in “traditional” leadership concepts. Strict hierarchies, authority and limited creative freedom no longer correspond to the ideal work environment. Instead, young managers focus on individual process support; they do not want to prescribe solutions, but rather provide orientation. This conflicts with the “old” image of leadership: authority, assertiveness and little room for adaptation no longer correspond to modern leadership aspirations. 

Uncertainty and lack of role models

The rapid pace of change in the world of work has a decisive impact on young managers: On the one hand, their image of leadership is largely negative; on the other, they lack the necessary role models for new leadership styles. The problem is that without role models, they have less self-confidence to implement innovations or visions. In addition, this often reinforces the image that leadership positions are reserved primarily for older, experienced colleagues. 

Young managers and their challenges

Leadership in itself is not an easy task. But the younger generations face additional difficulties. The combination of these factors makes leadership positions seem unattractive to many young executives. 

Expectations and prejudices 

In Germany in particular, the image of the classic career ladder still prevails. The problem is that young managers are often ridiculed. The “young ones” are expected to get in line first, to earn their spurs. New ideas or opinions on existing management concepts are not welcome. In addition, there is a predominantly German phenomenon: many employees prefer a superior who is older than they are. But leadership competence is not a question of age. 

Mental stress

Dealing with these difficulties is then only an additional burden to the hurdles of the leadership position. After all, young bosses have to endure conflicts with long-established employees and navigate their department in the modern working world. What’s more, a management position usually entails more work and therefore more stress. Fewer and fewer young people want to do this. 

What young bosses can change

Change is difficult. Particularly if it is completely contrary to old beliefs. Nevertheless, young leadership offers valuable opportunities for companies and their employees – if you let it.

New leadership concepts

Less authority, no strict hierarchies: The young generation brings modern, new leadership concepts to their companies and questions old processes. Teamwork and delegation are particularly important to them; all employees play an important role and are taken seriously. What’s more, their openness to innovation and understanding of modern technologies enable young managers to help the company adapt to the fast-paced business environment and remain competitive.

Positive corporate culture

Precisely because a pleasant work environment is so important to young leaders, they strive to create a supportive and collaborative environment. Employees should be able to develop their full potential, and appreciation and recognition are particularly important. Through their commitment to teamwork and inclusion, they create a working environment that fosters creativity, innovation and strong employee loyalty. 

Trust and communication

Open communication, transparent decision-making processes and honest feedback usually take on an important role with young bosses. They focus on regular exchanges with their team members and are often much more accessible than their predecessors. This not only promotes employees’ trust in the management level, but also enables a continuous flow of information and effective collaboration. 

What companies can do

So not only are young leaders urgently needed, they can also make a lot of positive difference. But how can companies inspire young people to become bosses? 

  1. Redefine boss role: Together with the employee, find out what is important to them in the framework conditions of their work – and support them in their career plans, for example with individual packages. Those who can also combine work and everyday life in a management position are much more likely to opt for the position offered.

  2. Flat hierarchies: Flat hierarchies and leadership are no longer mutually exclusive. On the contrary: If all employees in all positions meet at eye level and work together, this not only improves the working atmosphere, but also the work itself.

  3. Boss as sparring partner: Instead of rigidly imposing processes and procedures from the top down, managers today tend to play the role of a sparring partner. Tasks are distributed among several shoulders, and teamwork is very important.

  4. Strategic and operational: Instead of burdening one person – the manager – with almost all tasks, they can also be distributed among professional or lateral hires. This changes the image of the manager sitting alone in the office for hours at the end of the day. Young bosses thus work not only strategically, but also operationally.

  5. Decentralized leadership: working from the home office or from a vacation spot – completely workation style. Modern management wants to lead teams flexibly in terms of time and space. But one thing has to be right for that: The mindset of the manager and the employees. 

  6. Create free space: Bringing different departments together, creating synergies and leaving room for innovation and new things – if a company succeeds in this, a completely new working atmosphere is created. 

  7. Part-time leadership: Being a parent and leading a team at the same time – this can work if companies approach their employees in a flexible and trusting manner and they act on their own responsibility.

  8. Further development opportunities: Personal and professional options for further training, adapted to the respective target group – this is particularly attractive for young people. 

triangility: Young leadership, competent leadership

Young leadership promises much more than one might think at first glance. That’s precisely why it’s worth investing in young leaders. At triangility, we help young bosses on their way to modern leadership with personal consultations, workshops and seminars. Personally, competently and as individually as they themselves.

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