When German grocery and liquor giant Kaufland announced the person to lead its expansion into the Australian market last year, it made an appointment which turned a few heads.

While the expansion continued an ongoing trend of European supermarket brands opening up down under, it was the organisation's leadership that put the chain in the headlines.

With company veteran Gregor Thomas on his way out, the Australian operation reins were handed to the 28-year-old Julia Kern.

Ms Kern's credentials were outstanding - she had previously served as Executive Director of Region North for the retailer in its home country, and was seen by management as someone qualified fro the gig based on past performance and future potential.

But to put someone of her generation in charge of such a large project was relatively uncommon in the Australian context, According to Centre for Leadership Advantage CEO Dr Marcele De Sanctis.

"From the point of view of this global giant, this is a fabulous mobility move to extend someones career and give them what we would call leadership experiences - to actually be able to take on and expand their career quite significantly," she said.

Ms Kern's age places her firmly in the millennial demographic - a factor which has typically drawn caution in the Australian business leadership discussion.

Centre for Leadership Advantage Senior Psychologist Rearn Norman said millennials were anecdotally perceived to offer traits which were inconsistent with traditional leadership behaviours.

"Through the lens of organisational psychologists there are certain ways of defining generational characteristics in the workforce, which are typically shaped by environmental factors such as the role of technology and defining economic and social events on a global, national and local level," she said.

"All of these things can and do influence generations, so from that lens we can comment on perceptions of millennials - things like they are very self-expressive, very self-aware and able to articulate who they are as individuals, including their values and drivers.

"Things like their sense of self-expression, I think, are often interpreted negatively by other generations."

But in an evolving and ageing workforce, leadership driven by non-traditional traits could hold the key to developing the business models of the future.

Both Dr De Sanctis and Mrs Norman said millennials' experience with technology and developmental traits held them in good stead for dealing with change in the workplace and developing resilience.

Despite this, Dr De Sanctis said there was an issue of perception around millennial's in the Australian workforce which may be holding some organisations back from embracing young leadership.

"There are clearly organisations that see enormous talent in millennials, and some that see hiring younger leaders as a risk," she said. "It is all about perception.

"Often we can assume there may be challenges with millennials. We ask why they jump around from job to job, but we don't flip it to ask 'what is the matter with the workplace?'.

"Millennials expect organisations to have a clear legacy; they want to feel connected to the purpose of the organisation. I think organisations need to evolve, adapt and appeal to retain talent in a different way than previously."

Dr De Sanctis said the Kaufland example, among others, showed talent could be harnessed by empowering talented millennials through leadership.

"Companies might ask, 'do we feel like we're taking on too much of a risk and the profile of a leader from a different time would better fit this role?'," she said.

"Or do they see it as an opportunity to say 'well, these people mirror our customer base, they can connect in a much better way, they can leverage ideas around technology and where industry is going and therefore we want to give them a chance to have authority'."

Greta Andrews-Taylor is a Journalist at The West Australia and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.