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leadership lab

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

I have always believed in the potential we have to make our passion our life's work. For the most part, it takes a great deal of sacrifice. Society doesn't tend to push us to see our passions as vocations. We are told to see them as hobbies, things to "do on the side." We're told that we should push the things that truly fire us up to the back burner. So what ends up happening? Well, we go to school for courses we don't really love only to end up in careers we aren't truly content with in the long run.

Enter the millennial. One of the interesting things about this generation is that they believe in spending the time to connect to those passions early on in life. A job isn't just a means to an end for them (as it may have been for past generations). For millennials, a job is a way of life, a true extension of themselves. Will it mean that they take a longer time to find a vocation in order to establish that harmonious connection? Perhaps, but regardless of the time it takes, they seem to be committed to finding it.

So what does this mean for today's companies and the executives that lead them? As organizations you have the exciting opportunity to be that harmonious connection millennials seek. In fact, you have to be, as your next generation of employees depends on it. You have the opportunity to build and strengthen their future by tapping into their values early, essentially charting their course.

That means a renewed look at how and where you recruit, as well as the innovative packages, work settings and opportunities you create for them. I'm often asked to speak to organizations on the subject of millennial engagement, and when I do, I make clear that I don't subscribe to most of the commonly-held views on this generation. You know the ones I'm talking about – lazy, apathetic, distracted, etc. Labelling millennials this way is a disservice to all as it does nothing to address the biggest concern most organizational leaders have these days: securing their future pipeline of talent.

Millennials are, plain and simple, our future and our opportunity to evolve. Our chance to renew the way we see work, life and play. They offer us the opportunity to build on tradition while challenging the status quo in the spirit of continued growth and development. As a society we have a chance to benefit collectively, but only if we embrace millennials instead of fearing their differences.

Millennials are here to stay, and as they move on in their years a new generation with their own views on the world and how it should operate will enter our work force behind them. So instead of getting our backs up, as leaders it is our duty to find the synergies and bridge the generational gaps. It is our duty to engage and mobilize one of the most exciting generations to date, because if we don't, the future of our businesses will be in considerable jeopardy.

Jesse Jones (@iamjessejones) is an entrepreneur and the founder of TEN81 Lifestyle Inc. @TEN81Inc.), a lifestyle marketing agency with roots in research and strategy, focused on helping brands understand the 24-hour consumer/shopper mindset.