Gen Z has changed Army communication.
As far back as the formation of the first companies of American rifleman in 1775, effective communication has served as a critical component of Army leadership. Conveying orders, describing purpose and meaning, disseminating intent: all these are crucial to leading troops in war and peacetime.
Right now, Army leaders – and the Army more broadly – seek to convey meaning and insight, to describe legacy and implant culture to a group of Soldiers and future Soldiers raised on a vastly more complicated information environment. Today’s Soldier comes into the Army accustomed to absorbing a near-constant stream of information, stimulation, and feedback. It’s not all useful, but it is perpetual. The Army is adapting to Gen Z; broadly defined as Americans born between 1997 and 2012; the first American generation to grow up with a smartphone.
Jonathan Haidt, one of America’s most prominent social psychologists, makes a fortune (and quite a bit of fame) studying and describing the way in which Gen Zers receive and present information. You probably know Jonathan as the co-author, along with Greg Lukianoff, of the monster 2018 bestseller “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure” (a book that contributed to the aforementioned fortune). He teaches ethical leadership at New York University and uses research on moral psychology to help people understand each other. His life’s work is in helping American social institutions work better.
Jonathan joins host Joe Buccino to talk about how the Army should think about communicating in this non-stop information environment. As you’d imagine, this discussion is right in his wheelhouse.
Jonathan’s an interesting guy and he has some surprising takes here on the Army, on leadership, on COVID confusion and misinformation, and on understanding and promoting culture. His is a critical voice on these subjects and this is an episode worth every Army leader’s time.
Joe is also joined by two friends, both Army Soldiers, one before the Jonathan Haidt discussion and one after. The pre-Haidt Soldier is perhaps the country’s biggest Jonathan Haidt fan; he turned Joe on to the “Coddling of the American Mind.” The post-Haidt Soldier – NOT a Gen Zer – offers a view that contrasts with that of the great psychologist. So, a lot going on in this podcast episode. It’s worth 50 minutes of your time.
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