Interview with Liangzhu: His Coaching Journey

Curious to know what is coaching all about? We had a chat with Liangzhu to find out more.


1) Can you tell us more about what coaching is about? How do you get to know about coaching?

To me, coaching is about discovery, awareness and choice.  It is a way of empowering people to find their own answers, encouraging and supporting them to make conscious choices.

Coaching is more like being a facilitator – asking questions, guiding through the discussion, and using of inquiry to explore further.

What coaching does is to help people to be aware of and to gain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. In other words, it helps people to grow by knowing themselves better.

Some people confused about coaching, consulting and counselling. Coaching focus on growing people, while consulting focus on solving the problems. Coaching focus on the future, while counseling focus on the past. Though there are some overlapping whereby coaches may offer their opinions or solutions as an option for coachee to choose. Emotions are important part of coaching as well.

Coaching is not well recognized yet in Asia. It is more popular in Europe and the States.

I got to know about coaching when I attended a seminar about introduction to coaching by Stuart from Odd-e about a year ago. I found it very interesting and that is what makes me want to explore more about coaching.

2) How did your passion/interest for coaching come about? What motivate you to take up coaching training?

From the seminar, I was fascinated by how coaching can help in increasing the effectiveness of training and personal development (from 20% to 80%, as claimed by Jayson Krause). I believe coaching skill is the missing part for both me and Titansoft. I enjoy coding and solve technical problems as an individual developer. However, I lost the direction after Agile adoption. I am not sure how to co-work with self-organized team in the new context. I had to re-develop myself with a new set of skills in order to contribute efficiently. I see the light from coaching.

3) What was the process of becoming a coach like? What did you have to do? How’s your progress of getting the coaching certification?

I took Co-Active Coach Training Program by CTI®, which is approximately a 12 month program, consisting of five in-person workshops and is followed by a six month virtual certification program, as described in the following diagram.

Co-Active Coach Training Program by CTI®

I started the Fundamentals course in Sep 2015. It is an eye-opening experience. This 2.5 days class introduces the Co-Active Model, topics covered included levels of listening, designed alliance, establishing an agenda etc. It is different from any other classes I have attended before – it is non-technical, no structure; it applies experiential learning method, “Learning through reflection on doing”; hands-on coaching practice is a norm. It is challenging and exciting. I decided to continue with the Intermediate courses.

There are four 3-day workshops in the intermediate series, started from Oct 2015, ended in Jan 2016. They focus on the three principles of Co-Active Model. Beside coaching and being coached in the classes, I started to partner with 5 Titaners and engaged my own personal coach. I struggled to improve my coaching knowledge and skills. However, to my surprise, it benefits me a lot on my personal development, improves my self-awareness, and enhances the quality of my life in both work and family. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, and the more I feel its importance. Certification program is good structure for me to commit.

I started the virtual Certification program from Apr 2016 and ended in Sep 2016. It is an intensive program, including weekly teleconference, one-on-one supervision, self-study and homework, individual coaching practices. To get the most out of the program, I volunteered to assist in the Fundamental and Intermediate courses. It is proven to be extremely valuable to deepen my learning and understanding. To bring self-awareness and mindfulness to the next level, I registered an 8-week MBSR programme and started meditation from Aug 2016. I have completed the written exam in Sep 2016 and currently waiting for the oral exam.

Special thanks to those 13 Titaners who partner with me during the 6 months program. I won’t mention your names due to confidentiality. You are the one who always inspired me when I am facing challenges and frustrations. I learned so much from you and about myself through our coaching sessions.

4) What do u like about coaching? How coaching can help others?

Coaching is deep conversation with profound respect for people. Besides all the new knowledge and skills, I learned so much about myself in the past one year, both as a coach and as a coachee. I am more aware of my own emotions, how do I think and react in different contexts. I am more mindful of the impacts I bring to others. I have more courage to take responsibilities in both work and life. It did bring transformational change on me in mind, heart, and spirit.

Coaching focuses on growing the person, rather than solving the problem. Fitness programs are popular nowadays for our physical health. I think coaching is essential for our mental, emotional and spiritual health.

5) How did your first coaching session go?

It was in Sep 2015, homework after day 2 workshop. As an introvert programmer, it was challenging for me to hold a conversation. I was anxious as I failed miserably in the class. I didn’t know what and how to coach. I was so nervous that I couldn’t remember what I had said. In the end of the session, I asked for the feedback. It was positive! My coachee said he felt good to have someone to listen to him and some provocative questions stimulated him to think deeper. He was willing to be my practice partner after that.s

I could provide value even though I was not a good coach, and it was needed by everyone. I got the courage and motivation to continue the journey.

6) Do you face any challenges while coaching?

Yes, there are so many challenges along the way. Started with level 2 and 3 listening, to hear what does coachee say, their emotions and values; identify the key points to dig further through open-ended questions; get the coaching agenda, self-management not to offer solutions, be present and curious, intrude and take charge, aware of the energy shift, … etc. The list of challenges gets longer and longer after more learning and awareness.

I set one year initially to get familiar with coaching. It has been extended to 3 years now. I don’t know if I would have the courage to take up the program if I knew there were so many difficulties and suffer along the way.

7) What’s the difference before & after learning about coaching?

Coaching helps in my personal development whereby I am more aware on how to communicate with my colleagues and family members. I become more mindful on my own reactions, less judgmental, and able to listen better to others rather than focusing on my own solutions.

After one year of coaching training and practice, I feel that I am happier, probably because I focus more on internal development and less on external achievement; I make better choices to see more perspectives. More importantly, I have a new set of tools and skills to help myself and others.

My personality type used to be INTJ (based on MBTI test) and it changed to ISFJ this year in the recent test. Coaching transformed me a lot in the past one year.

8) What value do you think coaching can bring to an organisation?

I think coaching plays an important role in transforming ourselves into Agile organization. It enables growth of people, team and organizations in a sustainable manner. Coaching, mentoring and facilitation complement each other well in different contexts.

Coaching is not new. Managers have been using coaching skills to empower team members to find their own solutions all the time. More conscious practice of coaching will help to improve the efficiency of training and development dramatically.

In addition, the increased awareness from coaching can help team to co-work easier. It helps to improve team communication as well as learning how to deal with challenges, be happier and have balanced emotions.

9) Any last words for Titaners who are interested in attending a coaching session or becoming a coach?

It takes tremendous courage to be a coachee and a coach. You are ultimately responsible for your own learning and development. You must be willing to challenge yourselves and move out of your comfort zone for the sake of personal transformation. It is a painful process, and truly fulfilling. Welcome to join me on this path of coaching.

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