In the auditorium of the annual regional dance competition, a scene unfolds that is far too
Thirteen-year-old Abigail, a talented and ambitious competitive dancer, stands at the edge of the stage, her eyes fixated on the trophy table. Moments earlier, she had competed her solo for the judges and had earned the top placement in her category.
However, as the ceremony dragged on, Abigail's excitement turned to impatience. She tapped her foot, rolled her eyes, and let out a heavy sigh, oblivious to the efforts of the competition staff, particularly an older staff member of the competition, Jason, who was meticulously organizing the awards.
When her name was finally called, Abigail walked up, snatched the trophy without a word of
thanks, and strutted back to her spot on stage. When the awards ceremony was over, Abigail
continued to be oblivious to her peers on stage that also were top winners. She pushed her way to take her pictures and exited after she was done with her “glory” moment.
This moment, a display of a young talent overshadowed by a lack of graciousness and
awareness, highlights the critical gap in our approach to leading the younger generation to the timeless values of kindness and respect.
In a world where individualism often overshadows servant leadership values, understanding
Generation Z's unique perspective is crucial in building a culture of kindness, especially among young leaders.
Generation Z, born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, is often labeled as the “Me”
Generation, a label that suggests a focus on the self. However, this portrayal overlooks the
deeper layers of Gen Z's character, which is rooted in purpose, connectivity, and a desire for
The Importance of Exposing Gen Z Young Leaders to Kindness Activities
Fostering Empathy and Compassion: Gen Z has grown up in a digital era, often leading to a
virtual disconnect from real-world interactions. By engaging them in kindness activities, we can bridge this gap, building empathy and compassion. A study by the University of Michigan found that empathy levels among young people have declined significantly over the past 30 years, highlighting the need for building these traits in our youth.
Encouraging Social Responsibility: This generation is not just tech-savvy; they are also
socially conscious. A report by Cone Communications revealed that 60% of Gen Zers want to impact the world significantly, more than any previous generation. The disconnect lies in
exposing our youth to activities and creating awareness around what kindness and empathy
looks like. Kindness activities provide practical avenues for them to express this social
responsibility, transforming their desire to make a difference into action.
Building a Foundation for Ethical Leadership: As the leaders of tomorrow, Gen Z needs to be equipped with more than just technical skills. They require a strong ethical foundation, where kindness is a key component. By integrating kindness into their leadership style, these young individuals can lead with integrity and compassion, essential for a better world.
The Need for a Kindness Culture in a Purposeful Generation
Gen Z is not just about selfies and social media; they are a purpose-driven generation seeking authenticity and meaningful connections.
Incorporating kindness into the DNA of Gen Z's leadership development is not just beneficial; it's essential. It aligns with their core values of authenticity, empathy, and social responsibility. By doing so, we are not just shaping leaders; we are shaping individuals who are equipped to create a more compassionate, understanding, and inclusive world.
As educators and mentors, the responsibility lies with us to provide these young leaders with
opportunities to experience and practice kindness.
What are some of the ways we can offer exposure to kindness and empathy to this next
generation of leaders?
1. Community Service Projects: By participating in community service projects, Gen Z can
directly impact their local communities, learning the value of selflessness and the joy of helping others, which are key aspects of kindness.
2. Peer Mentoring Programs: These programs allow older Gen Z members to guide and support their younger peers, fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and mutual respect, essential components of kindness.
3. Kindness Challenges: Organizing challenges that encourage acts of kindness in schools or online can create a fun and engaging way for Gen Z to practice kindness, making it a habit rather than an afterthought.
4. Raise Up and Acknowledge Those Who Are Kind: Recognizing and celebrating the young
leaders within the Gen Z community who show kindness can inspire others to follow suit,
creating a positive feedback loop that reinforces kind behavior.
5. Model Kindness as a Leader of Gen Z: Leaders who are examples of kindness in their
actions and words set a powerful example for Gen Z, showing that kindness is not just a virtue but a leadership quality that can drive positive change and influence.
Gen Z is a generation with huge potential to bring about positive change. By steering them
towards a culture of kindness, we are unlocking their ability to lead with empathy, compassion, and a deep sense of responsibility. This shift is not just beneficial for Gen Z; it's a step towards creating a better, more understanding world for everyone.