How to empower millennials to lead with intention

In business, millennials are more collaborative and have tremendous initiative

More than ever, the millennial generation is connected to their communities and “core tribes.”  They are already being recognized as more collaborative than earlier generations, with tremendous initiative and intention – important values for every business community.

At Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), we have seen a shift in our students and our new generation of team members, who have a more progressive outlook on their work experience. They are more skilled in technology; multitask with ease; encourage and expect greater transparency; love working on teams; look for ways to build community; and crave a collaborative culture. 

As graduates enter the workforce, employers are wondering how to tap into this more-engaged, more-passionate group of future employees?  How can they help spread this new generation’s collaborative approach into the business culture and community?

Following are five tips for employers to empower this next generation to lead with social and cultural intention (their trademark qualities), as they transform the workplace environment:

Employee engagement.  In addition to a job that challenges them, this new generation is looking for growth opportunities; work-life balance (not just for family time, but also for personal interests); social responsibility; leadership; community reputation; connection; and inspiration. They also want an inclusive culture.  These softer qualities are helping guide employee recruitment, retention and loyalty.   The outcome is employee engagement and commitment that support an organization’s core values.  At MSU Denver, we conduct “Campus Climate” surveys each year, to measure engagement and to continually improve the campus culture.

Community engagement.  This social-minded generation is craving a work schedule that includes time for involvement with community-based causes. As an employer, sponsor their community time (with some boundaries, of course) and encourage personal interests and causes.  Also, identify an organization and event for giving back as a corporate team, to integrate those employees who might not be involved in their own organizations.  For example, at MSU Denver, we give our staff members four hours each month of paid time outside the office, for community work and board positions.  And, we host an annual “community day” for employees and students to give back to outside organizations.

Goal setting. Millennials want job recognition for themselves and their employers.  Reputation is important to them, and so is transparency.  They question authority and want answers about vision, priorities and commitment, to ensure their goals are aligned with their employer’s goals.  So, be clear with your business and community goals, and you will see a generation that helps meet them. 

Collaboration.  A collaborative work space – both physically and culturally – is a priority.  Most new offices have open floor plans that support opportunities for team work.  But when an open floor plan is not option, it’s still important to create spaces and projects (inside and outside the office) to collaborate together.  They will become the champions of shared ideas and teamwork.

Initiative. Ideas and initiative make a great combination – and this new generation has both.  They want a seat at the table. When appropriate, bring them into meetings where impactful decisions are being vetted and made. Ask for their feedback on big initiatives, and seek opportunities to involve them from the start.

This next generation will transform business communities and inspire other generations of employees to be more engaged, more aware and more passionate.  With great social and cultural intention, these future leaders are creating a shift in the workplace and our communities – a win-win for all.


As the Chief of Staff and Associate to the President for Marketing and Communications for Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), Cathy Lucas, APR, redefined MSU Denver’s brand in the higher education marketplace; spearheaded the legislative approval process to offer master’s degrees; and led the name-change transition from “college” to “university.”  She has earned a reputation for brand and reputation management, collaborative decision making, and successfully guiding through transition.

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