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The Power of Ren: China’s Coaching Phenomenon





Book: 'The Power of Ren: China’s Coaching Phenomenon'

Author: Eva Wong and Lawrence Leung

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, 2007


Leader Values


Fusion is a popular concept these days. Restaurants serve fusion food, which combines Western and Oriental flavours and styles of cooking. And musicians play fusion music, combining instruments and musical styles from several different countries. Now Eva Wong and Lawrence Leung of Hong Kong-based TopHuman Group describe the benefits of combining different cultural traditions into the “Ren Coaching Model”, which is proving to be very successful in China.


“Ren” means person or people in Chinese, so it’s no surprise to find that people are at the core of The Power of Ren. Wong and Leung dismiss the common “focus on issues, not people” approach to dealing with problems in the workplace, saying that it causes more problems than it solves. They point out that in China everything is personal and relationships are paramount; so ignoring the people will never lead to a solution.


Of course, coaching is a recent concept in the business world – and one which feels distinctly Western. It raises the image of an executive in downtown LA with his personal coach or trainer. So you might wonder if coaching is really going to work in China. Wong and Leung are convinced that it does, and point out that many of the underlying principles of coaching have been fundamental to Chinese culture for millennia.


A common mantra in China today is the need for more training. However, we need to be careful that this doesn’t blind us to the importance of coaching. Training serves an important role in teaching people transferable skills. But coaching goes a step further by changing our way of thinking about problems and helping us to set more appropriate goals.


Wong and Leung tackle their subject with admirable passion and enthusiasm, illustrating their approach with many success stories showing how the Ren Coaching Model has cut through apparently intractable problems to yield positive outcomes. They could have stopped there, but chose instead to combine many different strands of knowledge into a comprehensive “Tao of Ren”.


In this model, “modern coaching techniques are fused with Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, to produce a new, successful people-oriented approach to problem-solving and personal development”. Drawing on topics as diverse as calligraphy and ancient Chinese writings, this model shows how leaders in Asia can adopt eight attitudes in working with others to open up unlimited possibilities for the future. The Power of Ren is a heart-felt call for harmony in a world of diversity.