Right. I don’t think I’d disagree with anything you said there. I’m tempted to keep going with the coach analogy. The coach definitely is not like here’s the plan and then is hands off. They are there with you, calling out the splits, encouraging you to go faster, encouraging you to stretch or get water… or whatever you need to hear in that moment. But ultimately they can encourage and push all they want, but the runner has to have that motivation to carry it out.
Taking it less metaphorical… there is very real mentorship that has to happen. Not just form a manager but also from leads or other senior team members (dare I call them team captains??). We all have a role in pushing them into bigger projects where they might feel over their head at first.
Their manager has a big role in giving them chances to interview the next hire, encouraging them to demo something to a wider audience, take part in a hackathon, write a blog post, or join in on a group discussion. Leadership needs to see where they might be struggling and help them through it. Identify gaps in their skillsets and work with them to view those not as weaknesses but opportunities… and give them proper chances to work those muscles.
So you’re absolutely right and hope I did not portray the manager as being hands off in the growth process. It’s a partnership with the employee, manager, the broader team, and the overall culture to create an environment that allows the employee to live up to their potential.