Why Millennials Are the Purpose-Led Leaders of the Future


Millennials have grown up – and so has their approach to business and leadership. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have probably noticed that the world has been changing rapidly over the last 5 years. Workplaces have changed, employee expectations have changed, and the faces of leadership have evolved significantly. Many companies and leadership teams however are struggling to keep up, and Emily Jaksch, founder of HR Gurus and Generation Us, is not surprised.

Firstly, Millennials now make up the largest proportion of the workforce globally, and they are moving into the leadership ranks just as fast. The other thing to note is that the oldest Millennials are turning 40 this year. Yes, Millennials are now all grown up, and they are changing the world in more ways than you probably realize.

Emily has been researching Millennials since 2018. When she commissioned a first-of-its-kind study into Millennials at work, she was shocked by the results. What Emily found was that Millennials were one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented generations of our time. She talks about her findings in her eBook, A Study on the Australian Millennial Workforce.  This was just the beginning and based on Emily’s interest and how wrong she was, she started interviewing Millennial entrepreneurs.

Emily was fascinated by their mindset as what she noticed was not only did they think differently about work, life and values, they acted very differently as well. Whether it was in business, work, or as consumers, Millennials were shaping the world around them. And this was creating a massive divide between generations, entering the Millennial debate. Fast forward to now and Emily has collated the results of over 100 interviews.

So, what did I find when she interviewed these Millennials?

What Emily first noticed was that the research supported the notion that Millennials were entrepreneurial (more so than other generations). This is something she had toyed with as a concept, but now had the data to back it up.

Out of the 100 Millennials surveyed, 34% described themselves as a Business Owner or Entrepreneur and 18% had a side hustle. 62% either worked for themselves or were in leadership positions and only 39% described themselves as employees.

This was further reinforced by all the podcast interviews Emily had done to supplement her qualitative research. What she noticed was that this trend could be explained by Millennial’s values around work. When surveyed, she asked them to rank their top 6 values around business and their careers. She gave them 36 values to choose from and the top values were Work-life balance – 20% ranked this as their highest value, Challenge – 19% ranked this as their second-highest value, and Making a difference – 18% ranked this as their third-highest value.

This trend was supported by her previous research that Millennials highly value work-life balance, challenge, making a difference along with working with others and doing things that align with their values. Time and time again, Emily’s podcast interviews were with Millennials who had left the 9-5 grind because they wanted to make a difference on their terms, work their hours and be creative. Lucky for them we live in a world where this is possible. For companies, this is most likely why they have found it hard to keep Millennials in jobs for longer than 3-5 years.