By An Phương
Even without years of seniority under their belts, many young members of Generation Z are now holding leadership positions across various business sectors.
Generation Z or Gen Z is the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who are known for their confident use of new technology.
Lately, I’ve been having conversations with Gen Z leaders, mainly from the marketing and PR industries, and it's become clear how the dynamics of the workplace have shifted with this new generation.
|Illustration by Trịnh Lập|
“Gen Z and Millennials are two different groups with distinct work styles and attitudes towards leadership,” Hồng Thắm, 23, told Việt Nam News.
“I can't recall a time without wifi, laptops, phones, and other tech essentials. I got my first iPhone at 10, and I've been tech-savvy ever since. Easy internet access has hugely shaped how Gen Z sees the world around them.”
Thắm currently works at a media firm and handles several PR projects for local fashion brands. Her experience comes from interning for a few years and working at leading marketing agencies in HCM City.
“I've taken many social media courses on Google and found them helpful. With 2023 all about staying ahead of trends, staying informed and making innovative decisions is crucial,” Thắm said.
Traditionally, leadership roles in business were tied to age and experience, with the belief that it takes many years to accumulate the knowledge and expertise to run an organisation.
But young individuals bring fresh perspectives, new approaches, and unique ways of managing. They value work-life balance more than Millennials, and personal fulfilment and happiness rank higher than traditional career success.
My friend Văn Thuận, 32, an operations manager at a tech start-up, rightly believes that leadership doesn't have a specific age.
“Working with Gen Z leaders is interesting. They have a sensitivity and qualities that match well with today's challenges and opportunities, especially in industries like e-commerce, finance, or real estate,” Thuận said.
"Maybe it's the modern start-up culture that aligns with Gen Z’s energy and desire for personal control. I've also noticed that my Gen Z colleagues prefer working with those who are open and approachable, treating them as equals,” he added.
This also rings true from my experience working with Gen Z, whether leaders or not.
As a Millennial, I've found most Gen Z team leaders I interact with are eager to learn from real-life experiences. But the best way to communicate with them is through a gentle tone and approach.
I used to think this was just a personal preference, until I had a recent chat with my friend’s sister, bank official Thu Thảo, 31, which confirmed my observation.
“I've had clients younger than me, and when it comes to negotiation, the best results come from explaining deal details gently. This approach works across generations, but Gen Z’s overconfidence and limited experience can sometimes cloud their ability to be critical, making things worse,” she said.
“I'd rather not deal with such drama. Although it takes more effort to explain all the details, even off-project, I'd rather do so, treat Gen Z partners as equals, and secure the best outcome. That's what matters,” Thảo added.
Overconfidence isn't restricted to any age group, but it's often seen that many young people tend to overestimate their abilities.
"The downside here is that young people often don't realise what they don't know. They lack a realistic view of themselves, their strengths and weaknesses,” Thuận said.
Speaking their minds openly is a trait associated with young people, especially individuals like Quang Anh, 24, who have emphasised their inclination towards independent thinking from an early age.
Anh, who aspires to a senior leadership role in his local marketing firm, acknowledges Gen Z's desire to get noticed and to actively demonstrate their skills, rather than just passively absorbing information.
“My challenge has been effectively expressing my opinions to contribute well to group efforts. I'm working on improving every day, planning each step carefully, and taking tasks seriously and methodically,” Anh said.
Thảo said: "What Gen Z needs is more profound thinking. While sometimes Gen Z can rush and impulsively express their strong personalities, they should also learn to hold back, listen carefully, and observe their surroundings."
This whole journey for Gen Z leaders is about finding the balance between confidence and taking a moment to think.
From talking to Thảo, Thuận, and others, I've realised that when Gen Z understands themselves better, they can turn their generational strengths into career advantages.
That being said, on a broader scale, the rise of Gen Z leaders is definitely reshaping our perception of leadership.
They're blending innovation with being grounded, proving that age isn't everything when it comes to leading.
It's about being adaptable, good at communicating, and always being ready to learn and grow. As we see these young leaders taking charge, it's clear that leadership has a new look – and it's looking pretty bright. VNS