The Quest for a Coaching Mindset

"You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him discover it in himself." Galileo Galilei

I vividly remembered the first attempt at coaching as a manager- it turned out to be a telling session! Enthusiastic about sharing my experiences, I kept on giving more advice than listening and asking. There was this part of me that wanted to add value to the conversation so much that I kept volunteering and imposing my opinions on my coachee. I was the experienced and knowledgeable manager, the educator and the mentor. It was then that a realization dawned on me... that coaching is not just a technique, it was a mindset; hence this project. It is my hope that the thoughts shared in this book will assist Asian managers and leaders to become more effective coaches and for Westerners who wants to gain an insight on how Asians operate.

Learning the hard-skill of coaching was the easy part, mastering the mindset was the challenge. My quest to develop the coaching mindset was accelerated by the birth of my children. How parents "traditionally" brought up children kept catching my attention. I decided to take a different approach with my own children by experimenting with the coaching technique rather than telling and instructing them. It has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience growing with them. This further etched my belief that coaching is the key to effective parenting as well.

The life-cycle of a butterfly continues to amaze me; from an egg to a wriggly caterpillar, then a dormant chrysalis (pupa) before transforming into a beautiful butterfly. Each stage of transformation is a totally different form, unrecognizable from the previous one. I relate this to our mindset. Many of us lived in the pupa stage for a long time, enclosed and contained in our own world. When transformation of the mind happens, we become a totally new person - discovering new potentials with our fresh perspective and experiencing rewarding relationships.

My coaching journey has been rewarded by many heart-warming experiences; having been part of the transformation of my clients who are all leaders in their organizations or communities. I am but a facilitator; the success of the transformation begins with individual and their continued development, a journey of self-discovery.

I am proud of our rich Asian cultural values and we need to continue to preserve these unique Asian cultural values of being respectful to our elders, preserving harmony and collectivism and yet not compromising in our leadership effectiveness. Giving honest feedback, speaking our minds and challenging status-quo can co-exist with all our Asian values. We just need to learn a new way of conversation with a new mindset.

I hope that you will enjoy your coaching journey and transformation as much as I had.

Wai K Leong
November 2006