What Do Young Leaders Want?


Guest Author: Erika Retzlaff

President – Pueblo Rotaract

Whether you want to admit it or not, young leaders are the future of every organization out there. Sooner than you know, these young leaders will be the ones taking over, running your businesses and creating innovative ones themselves. You may ask, “How in the world are these young leaders going to be the future of our businesses if they don’t want to stay in the same place for more than a couple months?” The key is this, the organization must appeal to what they want.

Our generation is not the generation that is going to stick around at a job just because “that’s how it’s always been”. In fact, WE HATE THE STATUS QUO. We want to veer as far away from it as possible. We have been told since we were little to always take the path less traveled, so here we are, making a path for ourselves.

1. We are passionate

In order to keep us in a club, an organization, or a job we must be passionate about what we are doing. If we don’t like what we are doing, we will move on and seek out something that we can become passionate about. This begins at the top. If the president or the CEO is not passionate about the organization, why should we be?

2. We like positivity

You may all think that we are the participation trophy generation, and to some extent this is true. We want to be praised for the positive things that we are doing. We don’t want to wait until we are 60 years old to achieve a lifetime achievement award, we want the silly little awards for outworking someone else or for being the most creative at the end of the quarter. In return though, we see the work that upper level leadership is putting in, and we want to soon be like them. What you implement is what we will learn from and implement in the future. One thing is for sure, we are very observant.

3. We are ambitious

I don’t think our parents realized what they were getting into when they encouraged us to be apart of every sports team growing up, or every club throughout high school. Mine finally told me one day that my plate was too full. I took this as a challenge. Sure, I could have listened to my parents, not been so involved, and went on to live an average life, but the opportunities that I have gotten have streamed directly from my involvement. We are not the generation to simply take a bottom of the line job, be content for a couple years, and then move up the ladder “as it should be done”. We will outwork and outhustle until we are at the top. My advice, do not let age determine if you give this employee a shot at the next level. Let his skill, his work ethic, and his determination define him; not a number. “Wait your turn” is something that we don’t cope well with.

4. We have big visions but we also like to have fun

Who said that you can’t leave an impact and still have fun doing it? Most of our generation’s goal is to leave a lasting legacy. My legacy that I want to leave deals with making a positive impact on as many people’s lives as possible, and I do this through service. As president of Pueblo Rotaract, I strive to make a difference in the lives of everyone in Pueblo, Colorado. Although we do service projects, we have fun dressing up like santa for our winter 5k and eating donuts in the morning for our networking events. Our generation wants to enjoy what they are doing and they will not fall for the “jobs aren’t suppose to be fun” attitude. Again, we’ve always been told “If you enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t work a day in your life”. We enjoy making an impact, and we enjoy being around others that have the same mindset.

I’ll tell you this, our generation is no longer driven by the fancy city lights, but by the vision of opportunity to truly make a difference. Whether we are making a difference in an organization, in a city, or in the world; we are striving to make this world the best home for us. We may not follow traditional ways of doing things but I can tell you: we will leave our legacy; a positive one at that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s