Written by Kristin Harrington

At a recent family wedding, my younger cousin shared a quote from Game of Thrones: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” He said, “I immediately thought of you. That’s leadership, right!?” He was genuinely excited to have spotted a leadership reference in one of his favorite shows. His excitement made me equally excited. When Gen-Z is looking for leadership references in mainstream shows, we’re off to a great start.

My cousin’s excitement and passion for leading were evident in that moment. It reminded me how powerful leadership can be as a motivator. Yet, it also felt like a sharp contrast to many of the conversations I’ve had recently.

I’ve spoken with too many leaders who have lost their passion for leading. Rather than being excited to lead, they’re frustrated that another direct report was added to their team. If leadership is a privilege, it seems like it’s one not many people want at the moment.

So, we have a new generation entering the workforce that’s genuinely excited about the potential of leading, and existing generations have tried it and aren’t too thrilled to keep it up. This stark contrast in attitudes towards leadership is a call to action for all of us. Here are some suggestions for bridging this gap to make leadership exciting again for everyone.

Focus on Purpose and Impact. Starting with “why” is a powerful motivator. Connect leadership roles to a larger purpose and their impact on the organization and community. Help leaders see how their efforts contribute to the company’s mission, values, and community or even societal goals. When leaders understand and feel connected to a greater cause, they often find deeper meaning and enthusiasm in their roles. Struggling yourself? Spend time reflecting on the question: Why did I choose to lead in the first place? Reconnecting with your initial motivations can help reignite your passion and sense of purpose.

Invest in Leaders. Many leaders feel shipwrecked on their own island, asking Wilson for guidance (my non-Gen Zer’s will get this one). Many have had zero leadership training; even fewer have a consistent and knowledgeable coach or mentor to lean on. It would be practically unimaginable to throw an architect into her role without first requiring technical training, yet we expect it from leaders all the time. Invest in their success continuously if you are promoting people into positional leadership roles. When leaders feel equipped and supported, their enthusiasm for leading is evident. Lacking resources or support? Consider enrolling in a leadership coaching program like Year to Rise.

Get Creative and Keep It Fresh. Allow leaders to take on different leadership roles within the organization or surrounding community for limited periods. This can help them gain new perspectives, understand different facets of the business, and break the monotony of their current roles. It also reinforces the “why,” reminding them that the work they are leading has real value and impact on people’s lives. Leaders can find renewed interest and motivation by experiencing various leadership challenges and successes. Feeling the 7-year itch yourself? Ask if you can explore rotational leadership opportunities within your organization.

Finally, remember that leadership isn’t just a role; it’s a journey. Sometimes, the most profound journeys begin with a simple shift in perspective. So, as my cousin learned from Game of Thrones, we thrive not as lone wolves but as a pack. Let’s embrace that ethos and make leadership a shared adventure worth embarking on.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.