Uniting Generations

How Servant Leadership Empowers Gen X Leaders to Collaborate with Gen Z and Millennials


Mike Conley

6/28/20233 min read

Old and young meet and learn from each other
Old and young meet and learn from each other

In today's rapidly evolving workplace, the emergence of Generation Z and millennials brings unique challenges and opportunities for leadership. Gen X leader find themselves at the intersection of different generations. Each with its own values, communication styles, and work expectations.

Enter a newer approach to leading, Servant Leadership. Servant Leadership offers a transformative approach to leading that can help bridge the expanding intersection. Empowering Gen X leaders to engage effectively with Gen Z and millennials. Promoting collaboration, growth, and mutual understanding.

Being a Servant Leader

A servant leader is a servant first.

Being a servant leader means you make sure you take into consideration people first. All decisions and actions must consider if they allow individuals to grow and strive. As a leader, you care about and listen to your team. You consciously allow decisions and ideas to start from the bottom up. When working towards a specific goal or problem, you let the team find solutions for it.

This doesn't mean relinquishing all control. It means inspiring instead of forcing. Even in situations where there is little choice.

Understanding the Needs of Gen Z and Millennials

Servant Leadership begins with empathy and understanding. Gen Z and millennials have grown up in an era of technological advancements. Each has distinct characteristics shaped by their personal experiences. Gen X leaders should appreciate the differences and in the desire for purpose, balance, flexibility, and development.

Understanding the needs requires trust and the allowance for the room to have honest and meaningful conversations. This requires cultivating meaningful relationships.

Cultivating Meaningful Relationships

Servant Leaders must prioritize building meaningful relationships with their team members. For Gen X leaders, this means actively engaging with Gen Z and millennials by providing mentorship, guidance, and support. Encouraging open communication channels and regular feedback sessions. This helps bridge the generational gap and establishes trust and respect.

This means having judgment-free, honest conversations. Take some time to get to know the team members. Reinforce this in each one-on-one, giving the team member time to talk about any issues. This includes the possibility of discussing personal issues.

Personal leadership story

I once gave parenting advice in a one-on-one meeting when a team member trusted me enough to talk about their current dilemma dealing with their young child. They were struggling with this problem, and I offered some relief. This was possible because of the meaningful relationship I built. It allowed me to reduce their stress level, which had the effect of increasing staff performance. It also built a level of trust in every effort after that encounter.

Embracing Collaborative Decision-Making

Gen Z and millennials thrive in collaborative environments that value their input. Servant Leaders include team members in the decision-making process. This allows the incorporation of diverse perspectives and fresh ideas. Younger team members bring in the outlook of younger generations. This can help drive innovation that adapts to changing market dynamics and a younger customer base.

Even if a change is required, a Servant Leader uses a collaborative approach to determine how the change will be implemented. Allowing the full team to feel engaged.

Facilitating Continuous Learning and Growth

Servant Leadership emphasizes the personal and professional development of team members. Gen Z and millennials have a hunger for growth. Recognizing this, Servant Leaders should provide learning opportunities, skill-building programs, and career advancement pathways. Investing in continuous learning boosts employee satisfaction and loyalty. This often results in longer-term commitments.

A Servant Leader should address this early and often. Addressing continued learning with each team member at least quarterly, if not monthly.

Nurturing a Culture of Inclusivity and Diversity

Servant Leadership promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity. Gen X Servant Leaders have the responsibility to foster an inclusive culture. A culture where individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and respected. A Servant Leader should recognize and value the different perspectives and experiences of Gen Z and millennials.

Embodying Authenticity and Transparency

Authenticity is a core element of Servant Leadership. Gen X leaders should lead by example, demonstrating genuine care and concern for the well-being of their team members. Transparent decision-making is essential for building trust. This includes sharing the organization's vision and clearly articulating expectations.

Transparency works in all directions. A Servant Leader should strive for authenticity and transparency with the team, peers, leadership, and partners.


Servant Leadership is an effective way for Gen X to bridge the generational gap and allows effective collaboration with Gen Z and millennials. Embracing Servant Leadership principles will not only create a harmonious multigenerational workforce but also empower the next generation of leaders to carry the torch forward. Together, we can create a future that embraces the strengths of each generation and fosters a culture of continuous growth and innovation.