LT:  Hi, David, thank you so much for joining us, today.  I know you are an extremely busy coach, mentor, and academic who is focusing on these fields. 

DC:  Glad to be with you.  Where should we start?

LT:   OK, because you are known as a practice pioneer who has championed new and expanded applications in the fields of coaching and mentoring, I think our readers would be interested to know what are the trends you see emerging in these fields.

DC:  Well, ok, glad you asked.  There is so much happening in the coaching arena right now, I think we are at a pivotal point in so far as the field is shaping itself into a real profession with wide applications.

So, to talk about some of the major changes and developments I am seeing, I would start with:

A dramatic shift to team coaching.   Yes, individual leaders are still receiving coaching but the emphasis, now, is on using coaching to improve how teams work together.  I guess we could say this is represents a shift away from what might be called an American cultural emphasis on the individual and toward how organizations really work – they work as teams.

LT:   That is great to hear, David.   I would think, too, that team coaching may represent a more affordable, cost-effective solution for many organizations.  I will include resources related to team coaching below.

DC:  Another change we are seeing is a challenge to the idea of “coach diversity”.  

LT:  Can you explain what you mean by that phrase.

DC:  Well, it had been thought until recently that coaching participants should work with coaches with whom they perceive some common experience or sense of identity.  There are advantages to this approach in so far as the coachee might feel that the coach understands and empathizes with his/her position.  We have come to understand, however, that coaching clients may benefit more from work with coaches who will challenge their assumptions about others and their own experience.

LT:  This certainly rings true with my own experience of coaching and being coached.

DC:  This would pertain to mentoring role, as well.  The practice of coaching originated in activities we now associate with mentoring, and it had been commonly thought that mentees should be matched with like-minded, or similarly-positioned individuals who could sponsor and direct their path in the organization.  Again, the new thinking is that mentees benefit from having their assumptions challenged by individuals who have different perspectives and areas of experience.

LT:  In challenging assumptions, am I hearing a directive element in the coach’s/mentor’s response?

DC:  Well, actually, it is the received wisdom that both coaching and mentoring are, and always were, non-directive.    If we take a historical perspective, however, mentoring has always been a non-directive way of helping someone with the quality of their thinking. Athena, the original mentor, used her wisdom to help Odysseus and his son, Telemachus become wiser, in turn. She did not do so by telling them what to do, but by questioning them, so that they reflected on their experiences and learned from them.

On the other hand, coaching started as a highly directive form of tutoring in the early 1850s – the term was a joke based on needing a string of horses and a luxury carriage to drag idle rich students through their exams! The emphasis of the literature on coaching only shifted from directive to non-directive in the past 25 years, although the move started with Timothy Galway in the early 1970s.

The confusion arises because a bunch of US academics failed to understand the complexity of the Odyssey. They conflated Athena the Goddess of Wisdom with Athena the Goddess of Martial Arts, who was anything but wise!  As a result, they created a combined role of mentor and sponsor — two roles that tend to cancel each other out, because the need to impress a sponsor overshadows the desire to learn!

LT:  What a terrific explanation and history lesson!  What about expanded applications for coaching?

DC:  Well, we are seeing many organizations, worldwide, providing women employees with Maternity Coaching.  This may be provided by either external or internal coaches, and contemplates that women who are provided with and utilize their maternity leave, benefit from coaching conversations related to their maternity, return to work, and work/life balance. 

Additionally, I am happy to report that I am working on a large-scale project (based in Kuala Lumpur) to equip kids with coaching skills.  We are calling this, “Cool Coaching & Mentoring,” and the idea is that if kids develop coaching skills at an early age, they don’t need to unlearn behaviors later in life.  The support kids provide to each other results in really tangible benefits, e.g. one school in the Asia-Pacific region expelled 8 children in 2018. In 2019, none. This change came about because children learnt to coach and mentor each other.

LT:  You mentioned KL, above, can you tell us a bit about trends in the field that are emerging in Asia. 

DC:  Well, I am happy to say we are seeing a push back against western-generated constructs coming from China and Africa.  It is really important to have more voices involved in our global coaching conversation, and, I believe that Asian and other cultures have so much to teach and contribute to the field.   More needs to be done to record and disseminate these perspectives, but I am happy to say we did publish, “Coaching & Mentoring in Asia Pacific” a few years back. 

LT:  I will place a link to that resource below.

DC:  I can report, too, that we are working in countries that have no real history with coaching to develop indigenous coaches, and with a focus on Ethical Coaching & Mentoring.  The primary targets of this work are young professionals who are working in the context of NGO’s.  International coaches are providing support to these groups.

LT:  Could you also describe trends you see in the development and assessment of coaches, globally.

DC:  Well, Coach Assessment is another important area we are focusing on.  We are doing this because our research evidenced no real correlation between coaching skills AND the credentials a coach held, the number of hours of experience, or their hourly fee.  Many coaches are good marketers but this does not translate into coaching ability.  We found in conducting assessment centers, which focused on assessing coaching skills in real time role plays that 70% of coaches assessed could not coach to adequate standards.  This has led us to revise existing models and to define four levels of coaching maturity as reflected in coaching conversations.  These levels can be described as:  1) models-based coaching, whereby the coach uses models like GROW to structure and drive and control the program (doing coaching to the client), 2) Process-based, whereby the coach uses a processed-based approach to contain the conversation and therefore coaches with the client, 3) being a coach, whereby the coach contextualized the client’s situation according to his own philosophy and to facilitate development (being a coach), and 4) systemic eclectic – in which the coach supports the client in having the conversation he needs to have with himself.

LT:  For the sake of clarity, I’ve attached a Table from your and Professor Megginson’s paper on this topic, and include the link below:

LT:  Can you say more about how this construct influences coach training and practice?

DC:  One of the big differences is the way we look at issues and problems.  If we use a model like GROW, we compel the client to define a precise goal that may be based on a limited understanding of the situation.  A Chinese  person might, conversely, start with the big picture, and work from the outside in. 

LT:  Could you provide an example of this approach.

DC:  A coach might say, “I am not sure what the issue is, but let’s talk around it.”

It’s like two ways to create a jigsaw puzzle. One is to focus on an object, where you can quickly find pieces of the same colour, then when you have several of these clusters, you can look for connections between them. The other way is to start with all the edge pieces and work inwards. Both work, but combining the two approaches may work even better. 

LT:  David, thank you very much for your time today!  We hope to see you in Japan as soon at the current crisis abates.

Resource Links:

Coaching the Team at Work

Coaching & Mentoring in Asia Pacific

Coach Maturity, an emerging concept


Professor David Clutterbuck is one of Europe’s most prolific and well-known management writers and thinkers. He has written more than 65 books and hundreds of articles on cutting edge management themes. He co-founded the European Mentoring & Coaching Council, the primary professional organisation in the field with Europe, and is now its Special Ambassador, promoting good practice in coaching and mentoring internationally. He founded the International Standards for Mentoring & Coaching Programmes and recently completed a 3 year term as external examiner for Ashridge Coaching MBA. He was voted Coaching at Work magazine’s first Mentor of the Year and is visiting professor at three universities – Sheffield Hallam, Oxford Brookes and York St John.

David is a serial entrepreneur, having built and sold two consulting businesses. He now works with an international network of mentor trainers, supporting organisations in developing capability in coaching and mentoring. He maintains a continuous programme of research into mentoring, coaching and leader development. He is an accomplished and controversial public speaker in high demand around the world. The broad scope of his work can be seen on his websites: and He likes to practice what he preaches, setting himself the goal of achieving at least one major learning challenge each year – these range from sky-diving to becoming a stand-up comic!

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