The brotherhood of the rope stretches from mountains to subways and offices. Although the brotherhood of the rope concept applied to mountain climbers I believe we can all connect with a rope of caring for others.
Here are two examples of the brotherhood in action. One is public while the other came to the surface during a coaching conversation with a participant in one of my coaching workshops.
The public hero was Wesley Autrey, a construction worker who rescued a student who had fallen onto the tracks at a New York subway station.
Autrey jumped onto the tracks and rolled with Cameron Hollopeter into the trough between the rails at 137th Street station just as a train was coming into the station. Two cars passed over the men before stopping just inches above them. Autrey has received many accolades for his effort.
The more private connection occurred during a course I conducted on coaching skills for leaders. One of the very experienced managers asked how you get someone to be coached who does not want to be coached. I said, “let’s turn this question into a practice session and I will coach you and the other attendees will get a chance to witness a session.” He agreed.
To be honest, I anticipated based on his initial comments that he had given up on this marginal or minimal performer. Instead I heard many strong threads of the brotherhood of the rope. The employee was floundering and not doing what was expected. The employee was causing grief for his supervisors and seemed to have a complaint about everything. In this organization it is hard to remove someone so one strategy to deal with the issue is to move the person to another department.
But this was not the attitude or approach of the manager I was coaching. He was determined to help the employee. He contemplated a move not to remove the employee but to help the employee get moving.
The manager wanted to figure out what he could change or do differently to help the employee, and he was not prepared to give up on the employee even if the employee was ready to give up on himself.
You only reach a summit one step at a time and I saluted this manager’s willingness to keep taking constructive steps to bring the best out of this difficult employee. Although there were no public accolades for his effort, I told the manger I appreciated his caring and I would be thrilled to be managed by someone like him.