Millennials require different leadership strategies

Being a leader doesn’t always mean giving direction, or guiding team members to complete tasks in a specific way — because not every person responds to the same leadership style. It’s not always black and white, especially when working with the millennial generation.

Millennials have grown up in an “always-on” digital world and are more social and more connected than previous generations. They also have different priorities, as they want access and to add meaningful value to everything.

Millennials, more than any other generation, also express little loyalty to their current employers. This represents a serious challenge to businesses, especially restaurants, which employ a high number of millennials.

Why is this so important? Millennials represent the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, so it’s important for our company to look at different leadership strategies.

Millennial Concept Challenge

It’s refreshing to work with young professionals who have a true passion about the work they’re doing. How do we as leaders tap into their passion in order to become a more successful business? It starts with listening to them and it continues by empowering them.

Millennials want to be a part of something bigger and they want to add value to the world. At Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, we’ve made a promise to our associates that they can build a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry within our company and we’re committed to doing so.

In fact, 75-80 percent of our promotions are from within and our training teams are dedicated to helping our associates build skills and develop personal confidence. Associates are the future leaders of our company because they know they’re learning the skills they need for the rest of their career.

But we recently took it a step further. We empowered them to think differently and collaborate with a group of their peers to create their own restaurant concept through our first Millennial Concept Challenge.

This challenge far exceeded our expectations. The participants traveled to different cities, conducted research and put together how they would operate a completely new restaurant concept, and presented it to our executive team. We’re now in the process of developing two of those concepts to unveil as pop-up restaurants in Columbus this spring.

Lead by example

Here’s my advice for working with young professionals — engage with them on a personal level, empower them to be better today than they were yesterday, provide them with learning opportunities, and challenge everyone to listen within their own four walls or departments.

Often if associates see their peers being engaged and empowered to make decisions, they step up their game and follow in their footsteps.

Millennials want to be a part of an experience that has a purpose. Give associates the opportunity to be empowered and own their career. It’s amazing what they’ll come up with when they have a voice in the game, instead of sitting on the sidelines.


David Miller is the President and COO of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. David joined the company in 1996 and has been instrumental in facilitating the growth of the Cameron Mitchell Restaurants.