From saying something is “groovy” to telling your friend to “slay,” each generation seems to have a collection of words and phrases unique to itself. But, how can the lingo, and even the motivators, of a generation impact how one responds to leadership?

Attendees to the Civitan Region 3 Club in Salisbury, N.C., learned more about this topic during their spring meeting in April from Growing Leaders Speaker Andrew McPeak. The event was also made available via Zoom for the Region 1 meeting as well.

“I believe Civitan International is such an amazing organization and there really needs to be a next generation stepping up into service clubs like Civitan,” McPeak said. “I really hope one thing the group took away was just an openness and a willingness to the idea that a new kind of world needs a new kind of leader.”

Led by the Civitan Region 3 Director John Sofley, the group heard from three speakers which included Civitan International President Jo Ann O’Toole, Dr. Camerron Crowder from the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and McPeak, who spoke about leadership.

To open his presentation, McPeak began by putting the attendees to the test asking, “can you speak Gen Z?” During this portion, he showcased a list of Gen Z words and asked the crowd to guess the meanings. Throughout the room, there were laughs, chatter and smiles as the group gave their feedback.

“One of the things I learned from the presentation was about how there might be some barriers for people to be more involved in the club and some strategies on how to overcome those,” Sofley said. 

During McPeak’s presentation, he discussed the five generations of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Builders. He also described each generation’s view toward authority and offered tools for effective leadership in an ever-changing world.

“Gen Zers may have some inclinations of distrust in traditional institutions, processes or even traditional companies. On the flipside, these kids that are sort of stepping up into the workplace today have a higher value of personal relationships than previous generations studied,” he said.

He went on to offer leadership advice on how to leverage relationships to guide the next generation.

“So my advice to leaders today is adjust their leadership where they’re no longer leveraging their experience or even their title or their authority, but instead they’re just leveraging themselves. I always tell people that the greatest gift that you have to offer the next generation is yourself.”

A principle McPeak shared in his talk was “The Golden Rule of Leading Gen Z,” which states we must ask, listen, empathize, and guide.  One of the practical things McPeak said that clubs could do is to offer a leadership opportunity to a younger member.

“One thing we always say at Growing Leaders is ‘people support what they help create.’ I think in a lot of cases, our expectation is we’ve set up a program, fundraiser or event and we wonder why aren’t the young people showing up? If you want the young people to show up, you have to involve them in the planning in the beginning and then they’ll be involved in the actual execution on event day.”

Sofley hopes attendees took away great information from the meeting.

“We have been working to make sure our meetings are informative and enlightening. We want members to feel glad they attended,” he said, noting he had received positive feedback about the meeting from other members.

“Some stated it was one of the most interesting Civitan meetings they had attended in a long time,” Sofley said.

Andrew McPeak has recently released a new book -“Ready For Real Life” – where he utilizes his knowledge of generational training and discusses soft skill development for students. More information on McPeak and his book can be found at

Stay tuned! We hope to publish McPeak’s presentation on Civitan University soon.