Sustaining the Conscious Millennial Leader Mission

By January 24, 2015Millennial

Conscious Millennial Leader
Deloitte conducted an extensive survey of Millennials around the world. With over 7,800 Millennials from 29 different countries, the voices of being conscious leaders begin to be heard.

Who is a conscious leader?

From a search within the Conscious Capitalism site, conscious leaders:

“…understand that their role is to serve the purpose of the organization, to support the people within the organization and to create value for the all of the organization’s stakeholders. They recognize the integral role of culture and purposefully cultivate a Conscious Culture of trust and care.”

Words of serve purpose, create value, cultivate trust, and care for others convert into active results. In other words, conscious leaders exhibit these traits in the way they lead and build organizations.

Although profit is absent from this specific quote, it is an integral part of being a conscious leader. Profit does not stand alone, just as the other conscious leader traits do not. When they all work together well, a conscious leader is making a difference along with their organization and teams. We will see this combination within the Millennial values.

Millennial leaders want conscious leadership from organizations

The Deloitte survey asked Millennials to match words and phrases between their own ideals and what a business should achieve. The top ideals are:

  • Job creation
  • Profit generation
  • Improving society

Conscious leaders combine profit and purpose to make a difference, innovate, and make progress.

However, there is a gap between desire and today’s reality. The biggest gaps in business is an unbalanced focus on profit generation versus improving society.

Here is the potential shift for Millennial leaders:

Added Focus Less Focus
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Employee growth and development
  • Contribute to local communities
  • Contribute to the larger society


  • Personal income and reward
  • Short-term financial goals


This statement summarizes it best:

“While they [Millennials] believe the pursuit of profit is important, that pursuit needs to be accompanied by a sense of purpose, by efforts to create innovative products or services and, above all, by consideration of individuals as employees and members of society.” (Deloitte, 2015)

There is a checks-and-balances between profit and purpose.

How will Millennials lead organizations?

Millennials view “true leaders” and those who have:

  • Strategic thinking – 39%
  • Being inspirational – 37%
  • Strong interpersonal skills – 34%
  • Vision – 31%
  • Passion and enthusiasm – 30%
  • Decisiveness – 30%

All are key leadership values for the short and long term.

Intermixed within these values is how being “super-connected” makes a difference. Millennials who use social media actively feel more strongly in the positive impact business can have along with how a business purpose helps improve society. The super-connected Millennials also feel better prepared for their working lives.

Social plays a role in energizing their leadership outlook and keeping their perspective fresh through interactions and insights from a broader social community.

How do we sustain the Conscious Millennial Leadership Way?

The survey is encouraging but a survey is just a point in time. Sustaining the conscious leadership values will be the ultimate test of real impact. Keeping the right blend of purpose and profit through the next thirty years is how we will see a real shift in our business mindsets and results.

How can Millennials and other generations sustain conscious leadership values? Highlighted below are at least five ways to continue conscious leadership actions.

1 – Develop and lead by a clear philosophy.

To sustain an approach means you need to begin with a defined leadership philosophy. I have written about this before and have created a guide to develop a leadership philosophy. No matter how you do it, write out how you want to lead and why it is important. Keep your leadership philosophy as a checkpoint to see how you are keeping true to it.

2 – Read biographies of individuals and organizations that went astray

History isn’t short of examples of leaders who went astray. I am grateful to the writers who conduct the research and write the books about failed leaders. To understand the impact of misguided leadership, each year, read a biography of a failed leader. Understand the moments in which they took a wrong path. From these lessons, build in your own accountability moments to prevent your own potential failures.

Unfortunately, you can sprinkle your year with articles and stories of leaders who go to jail or are ousted from their positions because of a leadership failure. Keep reading. Keep understanding. Keep being true to your leadership values and be a trusted leader in all you do.

3 – Go and do work in local community activities.

Being socially connected has it benefits. However, being locally connected will keep your perspective grounded. To keep purpose alive you need to be alive in it. You need to get your hands dirty in doing purposeful work. You need to see the pain comforted in the eyes of others.

Just don’t give money to charities. Go do charitable work to keep the meaning of purpose alive.

4 – Take time to reflect and develop your self-awareness

In our social and active world, we need time to unplug and reflect. One of the most important things we need to do as leaders is to build our self-awareness. Without self-awareness, we may not hear what others are trying to tell us. Without a healthy self-awareness, behavior and habit change becomes nearly impossible.

Take time to think. Take a nature hike. Reflect. Be aware of who you are and who you are becoming.

5 – Lead with human-centered principles.

Springing out of your leadership philosophy will be principles you will want to activate. Know them and embed them in all you do. Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer, is a leader who exemplifying the power of human-centered leadership principles. Transparency is more than a principle; it is a basis for making decisions and building a company.

Principles are more than words on a screen. Principles are to be understood in how someone leads. Take the time to determine the human-centered principles you want to lead by and then pursue them diligently in all that you do.


The future always provides a seed of optimism. The Deloitte Millennial Survey shows us what the future crop of leaders can be. Across generations, our responsibility is to work together and challenge the next generation to raise the standards of leadership. Sustaining a bright beginning is vital.

What advice do you have to sustain a conscious leadership approach for any generation?


Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

Latest posts by Jon Mertz (see all)

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Rubie Garcia says:

    “Read biographies of individuals and organizations that went astray.” – This one’s a good point, Jon. As a Millennial, I read on failed leadership strategies so I could avoid the same pitfall. By being aware of the possible consequences, you get more conscious how and when to react. Though mistakes are inevitable, at least it can be minimized. Cheers, great article!

  • Alli Polin says:

    Combining profit and purpose – inspiring! I want that too!

    Point number 5 reminds me of a leader I used to work with many years ago. He spent a lot of time telling everyone how transparent he was being. I think you can guess that every time he said it, it simply made people more wary. Saying and doing have to go hand in hand.

    Thanks for breaking down the Deloitte survey here. Great information!

    ~ Alli

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Alli! Leaders who always have to state the principle they are “leading” on are likely not showing it. Exemplify more. Speak less! Appreciate your experience and insight on this. Thanks! Jon

  • Samantha Hall says:

    LOVE this post Jon!

    In fact, it sort of harmonizes (at least in part) with a blog post I want to write after reading War and the Soul by Edward Tick, Phd. I just finished it yesterday and in one of the final chapters, the author touched on a poem called The Parable of the Old Man and the Young that hit so close to home when it comes to a HUGE gap between generations. More markedly than the profit vs purpose gap you mentioned here but they are all connected.

    You wrote:

    ‘However, there is a gap between desire and today’s reality. The biggest gaps in business is an unbalanced focus on profit generation versus improving society.’

    And this is at the HEART of the gap between generations right now.

    In the poem I mentioned, it was written by a British person (Owen Wilfred) who served during WWI. Hundreds of his poems were written over the span of a year shortly before he died and only entered the public domain after his death. He died at the age of 25, just a few short weeks before the war ended.

    In his poem, The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, he begins by recounting the old biblical story in Genesis where Abraham takes his oldest son Isaac up to the mountain top to offer as a sacrifice to God. The last two lines of Owen’s poem brings the ‘gap’ between generations into stark focus. The heart and cause of this ‘greed’ and why the younger generation has such a problem with trusting their ‘elders’….

    When the older generation pauses long enough to grasp this…perhaps some understanding will melt their hearts enough (and their arrogance) to know they haven’t given the younger generations much reason to have faith in them.

    The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

    Wilfred Owen, 1893 – 1918

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned both of them together,
    Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
    Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    and builded parapets and trenches there,
    And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

    But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    All for pride and greed.

    When the younger knows the older views them with such little worth and is willing to dehumanize them and sacrifice them and THEIR future for greed, why do elders expect or feel entitled to so much ‘respect’?

    That’s my question. And I’m sure it echos many.

    Thanks for sharing another great post Jon!

    • Jon M says:

      Agree, Samantha. In that connection between young and old, we can learn and close gaps and lead forward in a more complete way. Millennials and Conscious Capitalism mix well, and I hope this blend continues as we all age and lead with purpose. Thanks! Jon

Leave a Reply