ORIENTATION : Given South Africa’s vast diversity, there is little clarity surrounding the most
prominent leadership style amongst young male and female (i.e. Generation Z, born between
1995 and 2015) potential leaders.
RESEARCH PURPOSE : To investigate the perceptions of Generation Z male and female
undergraduate business management students at a tertiary institution in South Africa, towards
leadership and its link to gender specific leadership traits.
MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY : This study is vital as the importance of gender equality and the fair
distribution of organisational opportunities are increasing, and due to undergraduate business
management students forming part of Generation Z and being the next generation of possible
RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD :A self-developed questionnaire by the author was
distributed to 469 students, and the final realised sample included a total of 320 usable
questionnaires. After a comparative descriptive data analysis, SPSS statistical software was
utilised to conduct a Wilcoxon’s signed rank test, a Mann-Whitney U test and a Kolmogorov-
Smirnov test for normality, respectively of the study’s formulated hypotheses.
MAIN FINDINGS : Male and female Generation Z students favour transformational leadership
over transactional leadership, and both gender groups perceive feminine traits as more
important for a business leader to exhibit. This contradicts previous research findings where
masculine traits were perceived as more important for business and leadership success.
PRACTICAL/MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS : As transformational leadership has been most frequently
cited in literature as the prominent and successful leadership style of the 21st century, all
leadership education development should encourage future leaders to develop a transformational
leadership style while implementing the inclusion of the feminine trait theory.
CONTRIBUTION/VALUE-ADD : These findings help determine which leadership style is favoured
by potential future leaders (i.e. Generation Z) at a higher education institution in South Africa
and provides guidance in terms of leadership education development.