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Essential Traits of Role Models and Heroes for Gen Z

On Tuesday, June 20th, 2023, a group of 25 men and women convened in a private home in Los Angeles, CA, to participate in an anonymous sample group. Their purpose was to delve into the attitudes and beliefs necessary to become a role model or hero in today’s generation. Through open-ended discussions, the group collectively identified the most important attributes that define such individuals.

Here are the eight key traits that emerged:

  1. Authenticity: Gen Z seeks heroes who embody authenticity, staying true to themselves in their words, actions, and interactions. They appreciate individuals who are genuine, unafraid to be vulnerable, and openly display their imperfections.
  2. Transparency: The heroes valued by Gen Z are those who prioritize open and honest communication. They hold themselves accountable for their actions, readily admit their mistakes, and remain transparent in their dealings.
  3. Ethical Behavior: Heroes with character and integrity consistently prioritize ethical conduct. Gen Z looks for role models who make ethical decisions, uphold moral principles, and demonstrate a strong sense of right and wrong.
  4. Consistency: Gen Z values heroes who maintain consistent values and behaviors over time. They seek individuals who do not compromise their principles for personal gain or change their stance based on popular opinion.
  5. Empathy and Inclusion: Gen Z looks for heroes who demonstrate genuine empathy towards others and actively promote inclusion and diversity. They appreciate individuals who advocate for equal rights, social justice, and create spaces where everyone feels valued and included.
  6. Social Responsibility: Heroes who prioritize social responsibility resonate with Gen Z. They admire individuals who actively engage in efforts to address pressing societal issues such as environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, and mental health advocacy.
  7. Courage: Gen Z seeks heroes who demonstrate moral courage by standing up for what is right, even in the face of opposition or adversity. They admire individuals who are willing to take risks and speak out against injustice or oppressive systems.
  8. Inspiring Leadership: Heroes with character and integrity inspire others through their leadership. Gen Z looks for individuals who lead by example, inspire positive change, and empower others to make a difference.

A Heroic Example of Exemplifying the Essential Traits

During the sample group, the life and legacy of Raoul Wallenberg was briefly shared, and the consensus was that he epitomized all eight traits on the focus group’s list. Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat during World War II, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the clutches of the Nazis. His extraordinary actions exemplified the very essence of these attributes.

Raoul Wallenberg’s authenticity shone through his selfless initiatives. He never sought public accolades and remained humble in his endeavors. The transparency of his motives was evident as he openly communicated with those who assisted him, from the frogmen who dived into the Danube River to free Jewish civilians from the Nazis’ grip to the diplomats he entrusted to obtain necessary documentation for Jewish escapees.

Ethical behavior motivated Raoul Wallenberg, as he believed it was simply the right thing to do. Until the day of his disappearance, he tirelessly worked to save as many innocent lives as possible, showcasing unwavering consistency. His empathy and inclusion knew no bounds, as he instructed his team to spare no effort in saving lives, regardless of background, color, or culture.

Assuming a leadership role, Raoul Wallenberg demonstrated immense social responsibility by taking a stand when others turned a blind eye to the atrocities of the Nazi genocide. His unwavering courage to fight against evil went against the expressed will of his own family, who eventually disowned him.

Raoul Wallenberg’s Inspiring Leadership

Raoul Wallenberg’s inspiring leadership continues to be acknowledged through posthumous awards and educational groups bearing his name. He has inspired thousands of individuals to assume leadership roles, to do what is true and honest, and to make a positive impact on the world.

The Raoul Wallenberg Legacy Organization shares a common goal with the sample group—to impart the necessary tools and training to future generations. Through embracing these eight traits, they aim to nurture future Raoul Wallenbergs who are ready, willing, and able to take the road less traveled.

By exploring the essential attributes identified by Gen Z and the remarkable legacy of Raoul Wallenberg, we gain valuable insights into what it takes to become a role model or hero in today’s world. Let us draw inspiration from his story and strive to create a better future by embodying these qualities.