I glanced at Dear Abby this morning and read a heart-wrenching letter (aren’t they all?) About a young woman who had finally gotten the courage to tell her mother about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father while growing up. The young lady said that she felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders – for about two minutes – that’s when her mother picked up the phone and began to tell everyone she knew. It had been two years; the mother continues to tell the daughter’s story like a gossip. The daughter was now ready to walk away from the relationship with her mother.
“Abby’s” advice? It was to never tell her mother a confidence again. I was flabbergasted! From the mountaintop of “what is going on here?” We can see a young woman who is trying to regain her self-confidence and self-esteem alongside her mother who probably suffers from some of the same issues and seems to mask her own story with that of her daughter. And all “Abby” could see was how to conduct a conversation.
When lost in the weeds of “what should be done here”, Abigail–the-writer lost sight of what is happening within these two people and between these two people. Her tactical view completely ignored the strategic, big picture view. This young woman poured her heart out to her mother. Her mother responded badly. What’s the big picture here? We don’t know – however if we were to look from a bigger perspective, the situation begs us to find different alternatives.
How does this big picture/tactical picture dynamic show up in leadership? How about the employee or coworker who says, “I’m having problems completing this.” And Abby – leader might say, “here do it this way” or “have you tried…?” A big picture leader would stop and ask, “so tell me about what you’ve tried” or “what are you trying to accomplish?