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2014 Winter Olympics

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Olympic parents

My kids aren't Olympians, but to me they are!
My kids aren't Olympians, but to me they are!
Drew Stoneburner - Self-Timer

There has been a lot of attention brought to Olympic Parents during these 2014 Games in Sochi. Parents, especially moms, are even highlighted on various commercials such as the ones put out by Procter and Gamble (P&G).

There is some contention, however, as to whether or not the mothers are ‘getting in the way’ of their Millennial Child’s career. Are they just too much some would like to know?

One example is when Mikaela Shiffrin’s mom accompanies her of her ski chair lift during competition. Her coach disapproves. Some people are questioning the role of the parent when it comes to setting their child up for success. What do you think that role should be? Are these parents helicopter parents or simply being supportive?

Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo recommended that companies contact the parents of Millennials in order to influence the right candidate. In order to capture the essence of the parents, Nooyi stated, “We’ve worried about buying employees, we’ve worried about bouncing them when things didn’t work, but we’ve never focused on engaging them with their hearts [emphasis mine].”

What Indra learned came as kind of a surprise to her when she internally took note of the parade of visitors that would appear when she visited her own mother. The success of the child is a reflection of the type of parenting that they received; for example, since she was successful, it reflected “what a good job” her mother had done raising her.

To further her investigation, she decided to contact the parents of each employee that directly reported to her. She wanted to hear from them their experiences as a parent and to gauge whether or not they felt successful as a parent. She described her approach like this:

I said, ‘therefore I’m writing to thank you for the gift of your son, who is doing this at PepsiCo, and what a wonderful job this person is doing.’ I gave a — it was a personal letter for each family member. And it opened up emotions of the kind I have never seen.

Incorporating parenting, like that of the Olympic parents, into the workplace is proving essential for leaders like Nooyi. Other companies are following her lead. LinkedIn has established a “Bring Your Parents To Work Day.” With parental involvement, the companies are landing truly gifted employees and are reveling in their success.

While critics may suggest that this is another sign of unhealthy “helicopter” parenting, our bonds to our parents—and their desires to see their children succeed—are certainly timeless. It is unfortunate that everyone does not see parenting as the most important gift there will ever be. It is also unfortunate that We live in a time when most business leaders are focused more on quarterly goals than on the company mission, and focused more on tasks to be done than on people to be led. Integrating employees’ family members into their work experience is an example of wholehearted leadership, and recognizing the “whole person” at work. (See:

Ideas like Nooyi’s may be unconventional, but may also be a direct way to strengthen relationships with employees and to increase engagement. Perhaps if the world fell back into a family rhythm, it would be a more docile place to be; conducting business and politics would be easier as perhaps parents could work things out easier than business people do.

Parenting is essential. No matter how you parent, it is important to parent. Being there for your child through thick and thin is a responsibility. Some may view it as helicopter parenting, but have they gone to the Olympics?

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