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9 Take-aways from a Conversation about Coaching in China

From the series Walking with Leaders | Podcasts


Earlier this month, ChinaSource launched a new podcast titled ChinaSource Conversations. The aim of the podcast is to bring together those with Chinese expertise and experience to discuss timely topics impacting China’s church. We hope that it will be a useful resource for those serving in China.

The topic of the first podcast is “Coaching in China: Navigating Culture.” You can read more about the genesis of this podcast in our monthly newsletter, The Lantern.

In the first podcast, the host, Mark Swallow, talks with three coaching practitioners: Scott Shaw, an American with 20 years of experience in training/coaching in China; Hunter Liu, a certified coach who has worked with churches and organizations in China for many years; and Eric Lee, an experienced coach/trainer currently based in Taiwan.

After laying out a definition of coaching, the conversation focuses on the unique cultural context of coaching in China, and how to navigate some of the cultural differences.

Here are 9 “take-aways” from the conversation:

  1. We realized the power of coaching when we realized that lectures and knowledge were not helping [the trainees] enough for them to either digest or really live out the truth they were hearing. (Lee)
  2. The concept of a life coach who asks questions doesn’t exist in China. In China there are teachers, and teachers give answers. (Shaw)
  3. In China, when a teacher asks a question, a student must answer quickly and correctly. A coach, however, asks questions that one does not yet know the answers to. (Shaw)
  4. Even though being asked difficult questions is unfamiliar, it can be an uplifting experience because for the first time they realize that they (and their ideas) are valued. If we can use this advantage, we can go deeper. (Liu)
  5. It is often hard for leaders to be coaches, because leaders see their job as ordering and commanding. They also have little time to listen to others. (Liu)
  6. The younger generation of Chinese seems to be more open to coaching than previous generations. (Shaw)
  7. The most important thing for westerners wanting to do coaching in China is to build the relationship. Don’t start with “I will coach you.” Just ask lots of questions. Formalizing a coaching relationship can come later. (Shaw)
  8. The best thing I can do to be a better coach is to overcome some of my own internal barriers that will allow me to help my clients become the people God wants them to be. (Shaw)
  9. We need to bring the trainees back to the Bible and God’s sovereignty in the pain and predicaments of our lives. (Lee)

For anyone interested in the field of coaching in China, particularly within the context of the church, we think you’ll find this conversation extremely valuable. As they say, listen to the whole thing.

And be on the look-out for the second podcast coming in September. 

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio