CNLP 458: Kara Powell on Why Next Generation Leaders are So Focused on Identity, Belonging and Purpose and How to Embrace Them

Kara Powell returns to the podcast with fresh research on the three big questions the next generation is asking, centered on identity, belonging and purpose. As more and more young leaders struggle with anxiety, depression and life, Kara shares how you can respond.

Welcome to Episode 458 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin

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The Fuller Institute

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The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey

At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof

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Insights From Kara

1. The next generation is anxious, adaptive and diverse

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone, and while we don’t fully know how it will affect any generation, Kara’s team at the Fuller Youth Institute has identified three key adjectives to describe the next generation:

  • Anxious – Even before the pandemic, Gen Z had quite high rates of mental health challenges including anxiety, depression and even suicide. According to CDC data, during the pandemic anxiety tripled and depression quadrupled for young people. It’s likely this already anxious generation is probably now more anxious.
  • Adaptive – Fuller also describes Gen Z as creative, talented, resilient, problem solvers, opportunity creators and having the desire to serve.
  • Diverse – If you look at the US census data, in 2020, 50% of those under 18 are young people of color. So, 50% are white and 50% are young people of color. This generation is one that’s used to being around diverse folks and wants to pursue racial justice and racial reconciliation

2. Influence the next generation’s struggles with identity by sharing your journey

In her research for 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Kara’s team surveyed over 2,000 teenagers and found that they’re defining themselves based on others’ expectations and others’ interactions with them. And secondly, this next generation constantly feels, as they’re defining themselves, that they’re not enough.

Because the next generation responds to authenticity and vulnerability, Kara believes that we can positively influence them by first sharing our own identity journeys with them. When we do this with them, we build trust.

3. Gen Z may have too many possibilities, and that can be overwhelming

As children of the ’80s or ’90s, we often had a linear path—High school, then maybe college or the military, workforce, marriage, kids, etc. For young people today, it’s a much more circuitous path that sometimes leaves the map all together, and then comes back in a completely unique way.

There are so many different options for young people. And while many different possibilities can seem like an advantage, it can also be very overwhelming. Too many options can lead to stress and uncertainty when it comes to their sense of purpose.

Quotes from Episode 458

Our younger generation is going to trust us more when we're sharing more about our own journey. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet According to CDC data, during the pandemic for young people, anxiety has tripled and depression has quadrupled. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet This generation constantly feels that they're not enough. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet Those of us who are over 30, we have finger pointed and we have judged the younger generation. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet This is a very purposeful 'we want to change our environment, we want to make a difference' generation, which is something to really celebrate. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet We can move at the speed of trust. - Stephen Covey Click To Tweet It is so easy to assume and so difficult to listen. Click To Tweet The best innovation happens through empathy. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet All generations, but especially young people, are hungry for connection. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet It's hard to create a sense of belonging when we're hurrying. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet When stories can be shared in an unhurried environment, that creates a sense of we. @KPowellFYI Click To Tweet

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Next Episode: Michelle Williams

At age 20, Michelle Williams was approached by Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland to become the next member of Destiny’s Child, a moment that changed her life. Michelle talks about the pressure of fame, public life, her battles with depression, why she’s still great friends with Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé long after Destiny’s Child disbanded, and why success can’t fulfill unmet needs.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 459.

CNLP 458: Kara Powell on Why Next Generation Leaders are So Focused on Identity, Belonging and Purpose and How to Embrace Them

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