June 11, 2024

Changing professions and professionals - A Conversation With David Clutterbuck

In this episode of OnCoaching Zoltán Csigás talks with Prof. David Clutterbuck –

founder and now a special ambassador of EMCC, coaching- and team-coaching

pioneer. The conversation is the extended version of Prof. Clutterbuck’s

keynote that was delivered at EMCC Hungary’s annual Academy conference of 2024.

The conversation covers a wide variety of topics, including the boundaries

between coaching and mentoring, the future of the profession in the light of AI

developments, competency systems and even more!

Transcript
Zoltán Csigás:

Hello. My name is Zoltán Csigás, and this is Zoli's podcast on coaching. In this series, I'm talking with internationally renowned coaching scientists and coaches, we explore their personal and professional insights on the science of coaching and on the helping professions. Are you interested in how they got close to this profession. Are you curious about the new frontiers they are exploring right now? Join me and listen to the conversation. Inspiration and some fun is ahead. Hello David, and welcome to the conference, emcc Hungary's Academy for 2024 with the subtitle of personalized mentoring and coaching in alliance. Welcome. I'm so happy to have you. I'm delighted. I wish I could be with you personally, but I'm on my way to Africa today to do some workshops there. Oh, wait, wow. Super interesting. And I wish you could bring a slice of Africa to us today, and I would be interested to explore that a bit in our conversation. There are so many things that you are researching on, writing on, and as a thought leader, you have an opinion. But to focus the conversation and the topics of the conference, I would like to ask you first about the relationship between coaching and mentoring. How you see that, like, is it necessary to make difference between the two of these helping professions? And if so, how would you do that? Let's look at it from two perspectives, from the perspective of the client and the perspective of the coach or mentor. From the perspective of the client, we can find zero evidence that clients care. Want to be able to be there, to be pressed to and provide them with the kind of attention and questioning and support that they need at the time. Now, there are boundaries to this, because we know if we're trying to help somebody, we help them, least when we give them advice, there's and there's this big difference between giving somebody context, which is information that helps them with the quality of their thinking, and giving them advice which is doing the thinking for them. There's a boundary here that's outside of those coaching and mentoring, but within that the scope of how we're supporting people and helping people, the client doesn't care

David Clutterbuck:

in the coach's head as to all the mentors, as to whether they feel they're slipping from one thing to the other and feeling guilty about it. In my work, going around the world, talking to coaches of mentors in multiple countries, it's very clear, the more mature the coaches become, or the mentors become, the less they care about this, the more they use it themselves. And this has been deeply reinforced by the work of the coach maturity research group. There are five of us in the group at the moment, and we've been picking up on the maturity research that David meghans and I did. 20 years ago. We were using the data from assessment centers, from Coach assessment centers to look at the evolution of coaches mental architecture, if you like, the way they thought about themselves and their identity and their relationship to their client. In that original research, we found that people started people, very often started off with a very simplistic model, like the GROW Model, or something like that, which has deep limitations. Let's put it that way. And what we find increasing is around the world, people say, Well, we start off with this. We realize it doesn't work in any work, and anything that's complicated, so we throw that away, and then we get on, we're doing some real coaching or real mentoring, and you've sort of evolved from this idea that you're stuck in a particular model doesn't work or it needs you to basically very poor quality coaching or mentoring. But then you move to be out too much, but be much more open. You get more relaxed about the conversation, and you have a whole portfolio of ways you might, you might work with somebody, and that leads to to a different way of thinking about your identity as a coach or as a mentor. And then there's ended to be quite a big gap, because as people started to integrate who they were with what they did, and it's about you've gone from doing coaching doing coaching to doing coaching with to being a coach. And then finally, we found that the most mature coaches we identified in the minds who had the biggest impact were what we call systemic eclectics, because they saw the client in their systems, and they took a very systemic view of the whole of clients, the client relationship. But they were very eclectic in the way they approached things. They used themselves far more now in the more recent studies with the research group, what we've done is to go out and interview very experienced coaches around the world. What we wanted to hear from them. We asked them about their journey, their learning journey, in particular, how did they evolve as a coach? Surprise, surprise. One of the things that came up the first thing they do is forget goal obsession. They realize that goals has got something that emerged from the session, very often, not that you start the session with they also start to use more of themselves, so they become much more like mentors. If you think that mentor. Are able to give more context because they've got more experience, and so the boundaries just disappear at that level. So the coach, the client, doesn't care, and the most mature coaches actually blend coaching and mentoring however you will want to define them in their practice. It doesn't actually matter. It only matters if you're a beginner and you're trying to to practice very basic level coaching. Problem with that is that artificial intelligence is starting to do that the better we can so that basic level process based, you know, following a nice and it's a step by step model that can be done by an AI very well benefit than the humans and our big challenge, or one of our big challenges across the MCC and I think the whole world of coach education is, how do we help coaches to move straight to the more mature levels of being a coach, as opposed to doing coaching? Wonderful, I

Zoltán Csigás:

would say. And we just these three minutes, you raised at least 12 thoughts that I wrote down, and I could reflect on, well, we could write a whole book out of this. First let me just highlight what really caught my attention from the first part is that giving context doesn't equal to giving advice, because I think that helping clients to think with information, with background, with knowledge, with whatever is frequently considered as wrongful input into the coaching process, and they think it's a good thing that you are clarifying that this could really fit into both coaching and both mentoring as well,

David Clutterbuck:

absolutely, and it's A whole ethical issue here as well. If you hear somebody and you have some knowledge that they don't have, and that might knowledge might help them to avoid a major mistake or doing harm to themselves or to other people, do you say, Oh, well, I can't give you that information because I'm in a coach mode. That's unethical. Absolutely. You know

Zoltán Csigás:

what the challenge in having a conversation with you is that you were one step ahead of me and you're already answering the questions. Just going to be my cool question. How does ethic come into play? Cool building on that, I always had the idea that even such a thing as clear questioning doesn't exist because my questions are coming from my own frame of reference, my previous knowledge, my perspectives, my whatever so bit of questioning is technically giving context to my coach here or to my client?

David Clutterbuck:

Yeah. Well, there's so many myths and nonsense out there, so the idea of non directive, as you've just described, the moment you choose between one question and the other you have just directed the conversation. So we have all these, these maxims and thing rules we suppose to follow from mostly these come from North American ideas around what coaching should look like. And we're constantly challenging these. Now we're saying, well, where's the evidence for this? And the answer is, there isn't any. When we take it out of a European, North American context, and we go and listen to what coaching is like in other parts of the world, and again, they don't actually really distinguish between coaching and mentoring. It's about helping people to think that. I've just been in the Solomon Island, absolutely fascinating listening to how people coach there. And I wish I'd been able to have the time to sit in on some some coaching conversations, because the culture of the Solomon Islands is very rich. You know, they have hundreds of years of tribal law and custom. And we see this in a lot of societies, underdeveloped societies, underdeveloped in the modern economic sense, rather than in other senses. And what fascinated me was, was the emphasis they put on parable and story. Now we have in in the working world, we sort of have a this, this knowledge of Jesus and the parables, and that people would develop wisdom in others by telling parables and stories. We've lost that and coaching dogma as it's promoted by some other associations, just basically stop that, but it's a critical part of learning in so many cultures, and so what they do is to choose the parable that will help somebody, will stimulate the right the thinking of somebody, and open up different perspectives to them. That and we now I'm finding that this is in the culture of many countries, and while I'm in Africa, shortly, it's going to be one of the things I'll be exploring. But the Solomon islanders go one step further, which absolutely fascinated me. Once they buy isolate, once they've talked about the story, they many of the stories are associated with dance, and so they will do together a dance that brings them into unison and rapport around the nature of the story and the issue. Now, isn't that amazing what we can learn from other cultures?

Zoltán Csigás:

Absolutely, and I frequently hear the criticism that coaching, or most of the coaching so very. Cognitive refocus just conversations and bringing in, you know, emotions, dance, whatever, that could be a real breakthrough in how we support people. And as you were talking, and I brought in the concept of coaching and mentoring as you were talking, I was starting to think about more like a learning consultant or a learning supporter, or just the developmental support person, instead of having the distinctions between coach and mentor?

David Clutterbuck:

Yeah. Well, there's this whole area that I find fascinating. It's coaching, our coaching and mentoring professions, or vocations, or, as I prefer, something in the middle, a provocation.

Zoltán Csigás:

Oh, tell me a bit more about that distinction. Yeah. So

David Clutterbuck:

if you're a profession, you can play all sorts of rules. You have to, and there's a lot of governance around it. If you're a vocation, that is quite the opposite. You do something because it's something you want to. It feels a need within you. You'll get it's the way that you want to serve the world. Provocation is something in the middle there you are able to serve the world through the way that you approach conversations with other people that's

Zoltán Csigás:

truly deep. And I really like the word that you chose provocation, because it has an extra sense, an approach on how we should be or we might be approaching those conversations. Because for me, provocation is definitely meaning the challenging of the thoughts of my partners, going beyond boundaries or typical thinking patterns or whatever is. So I really, really like that virtual locations. So you mentioned everything is interesting. So I'm like, Wow, I'm coaching. The only interesting things that you are saying that you mentioned that it is the approach of beginner coaches to learn some models, formalities, routines, or whatever. I do. Think that it's a good way of getting into a profession, getting into the way of learning culture. How could we support them? Or what could other coaches do to speed up this process? Because I don't think that this should be skipped. So what's your position? Can we skip working with one model or two and, you know, and learning the basic tropes? Is it possible to skip it and start from a higher level immediately? That's or is that just something that we can speed through?

David Clutterbuck:

That's what we're questioning right now. What can we do? Because if AI is coming coming rapidly, it's taking over more and more of this means that if you don't progress rapidly into more mature coaching, you're going to get left behind. I mean, nobody warned you, because nothing to offer, and yet, as you say, how do you start to learn how to do it? The evidence that we have so far from the maturity research studies suggests that what we should be doing is giving people the concept of theory and some models to use, but enabling them to get to let go of those models as quickly as possible. So it's a bit like a child learning to ride a bicycle. You have stabilizers on it. Most kids, once they go, get a bit of speed up, they really want to take your plea stabilizers off. And you know, jolly well, if you do it, they're going to fall over and don't hurt themselves. So you judge it as quickly as possible. You take one stabilizer off, yeah, and then you take the other one off, and they and they're away. And I think that that analogy works for me. We can the emphasis of so much of coach education and coach accreditation in some other bodies is all about sticking to the process, the idea that you, well, let's take a differentiation, for example. So you do you qualified ACC level, and then you go on to do more of the same, but deeper and better to get PCC, and the more of the same and deeper to get MCC. There is no evidence from our research that that's accurate. The reality from the research is that you abandon what you have so had before as ineffective, you leave it behind. So Master is about recognizing that you've moved to a completely different level and have different approaches and different ways of doing things. Mastery is about breaking the rules and not sticking to the rules. And so the effort of Education has got to be on experience, on practicing, on scenarios and working with case studies and just getting in there and doing it. I loved

Zoltán Csigás:

it, especially the breaking the rules part. If I can get back to the bicycle, I love it. My challenge for it is that riding a bicycle has a pretty easy the visible purpose. It has reels pedals, and it can move in one direction. But so I think it's easy to get the idea of what the bicycle is for. But if you are speaking about these coaching, mentoring combined and learning supports and personal development whatever, then I think it's not easy to get grasp of what coaching, mentoring, whatever role these are all about. That's why a lot more challenging to move up to that level. That's why I think it's important to talk about competencies and boundaries, even through the lenses of breaking the rules. Let me have a movement. Question forward is that we are not we may not just talk about coaching and mentoring when we talk about this helping profession. So where do you see the boundaries, for example, with other helping professions like counseling or therapy or whatever? So what are the things that we should definitely have to keep in online this coaches slash mentors in order to stay in the area where we should be staying. Is there such an area where we should be staying?

David Clutterbuck:

So the first thing that distinguishes, and I think is an issue mentoring from and coaching from other helping professions, is that most of them require people to be, to undergo, to be on the receiving end. So if you're going to become a counselor, you have to go through lots of counseling yourself. It's not required, but I think it should be that you and what we found is has been really helpful. Of in the stories that people have told of their progression as coaches to mature coaches, all of them talk about the value of supervision and different kinds of vision. Some of them also say, I go to counseling. I go to other forms of self or what development of self awareness. And so this, it takes you away from doing it. It takes you much quick, more quickly, to be but and then we get to where exactly, all of the boundaries. Well, I think if we find ourselves trying to cure somebody, we've gone too far that takes in, you know, we've quite clearly gone in into counseling or or therapy of some kind, and we just need to have a little warning bill that says, you know, like the the sensors on the back of a car that tell us if we're getting too close to the lamppost. We need to have those built into us. And again, how do we learn teach people to do that? We put them into scenarios where they practice these things so they have the experience they it's not just something that's intellectual, it's something they've experienced viscerally.

Zoltán Csigás:

What would be your recommendation to the attendees of the conference in moving forward? Well, we different coaches here with different experiences. We have mentors, coach, mentors. So we have lots of different professionals here. What would be your advice for them on going to the next levels of their careers or in to the next levels of their coach slash mentoring identities? If there could be one or two general advices that you could make, we

David Clutterbuck:

make advances. And although the concept of stage models has been coming for a lot of criticism recently, and we, when we did our original studies, we saw the progression of coaches as a stage model. But we more recent research hasn't borne that out, and it's much more people can come in at different levels, so you don't have to come in at that very basic level. You may be able to come in with an experience from elsewhere. That's so you may have got counseling experience. You may have just be a very wise person, so you don't have to go through all this need for the process stuff. So I've completely forgotten where I was going, who's coming from. But anyway, let's carry on, and we'll see where we go. But the notion that we have to have a starting point, a fixed starting point, I think, has can be challenged very strongly. However, what we can do is to create dissatisfaction with where we are, and that's the key in a state, people progress from one level in a stage model by realizing the way that they think about things in that level model, or that level doesn't work. They seek mentally for different solutions in a stage model, people expect to only move on, essentially, when they become dissatisfied with the approaches they have today, they just don't work in the situations I can move them to. And so what that says is, well, okay, I need to rethink this. And so they go out and seek a different way of approaching an issue. We have to build in our capacity for dissatisfaction with where we are, and what we see with so many coaches around is a smugness, if you like, Yep, it's nice and cozy where they are. I do it this way, and that's his mind. And I'm a great coach, because I do no sense of seeking challenge, seeking looking, when is it? Yeah, when could this be better? When is it really working as much well as I think it is seeking challenges to the way that we do things. So I like to in the coaches that I supervise. I recommend that every month they try on one assumption, they hold that they can challenge, and then to go out and say, Well, is this totally true? Is it not true? Is it only partially true, and constantly to be challenging where they are? I recommend that they go and choose clients who are not similar to themselves, because most coaches tend to graduate to clients who who are actually bit like them. Yeah, so choosing some clients who are neuro diverse, for example, or neuro divergence, we now call per se seeking opportunities to. To increase our level of dissatisfaction with where we are. And sometimes just reading, you read widely, and something comes out, out of those books that really make them think or through supervision. In supervision, somebody presents a case that we think, Gosh, my normal way of working wouldn't work there. What I need to do acquire in terms of a different perspective. So all of these things I think that we can do, but it's all comes down to increasing our level of self awareness to see what really where the assumptions that we hold need to be questioned. Thank

Zoltán Csigás:

you. I have a professional and a personal question as well, now, puzzled into which direction I should be steering the conversation. Let me ask the personal one first, and feel free not to answer. What was the latest belief of yours that you have challenged recently?

David Clutterbuck:

Oh, that's a good question. What's the latest one that I've changed I've had to challenge quite of my understandings about dementia because of something that I'm involved in, and the way that I need to respond to the other person and to other people around them. That's given me a set of different empathies, if you like, and a completely new set of tools for my self regulation in the face of these issues. Thank

Zoltán Csigás:

you very much for sharing that I have one more question more for the professional side here is that you said that we should be constantly seeking challenges, breaking more and more barriers as we develop ourselves, and then to circle back to the boundaries of competencies, or the roles of boundaries. So when should we stop? You mentioned previously that? Well, when you find yourself curing people, that's where you are in the wrong field as a coach. But for me, curing is not a very easily identifiable moment. Because, let me use a big word here, provocative. Because sickness beyond your respect is not something that is that is a clear sign most of the times as I work as a psychologist as well, but my practice is very small. Most of the times, people who have real psychological issues, they don't come with them to the therapy store, to the console. They don't say that, hey, sorry, I have some skies or whatever, and please help me. They just come with these shows like any coach would receive, like, you know, I am disoriented, or I need to find right with others. I need to find more focus in my work. And then after 10 sessions, it turns out the value we have HD or something even more non healthy, like thing. So what should a coach, bash mentor, though, to be more aware of these gradually emerging challenges, or, you know, latent issues, name, number of England, one

David Clutterbuck:

thing we can do is doing our level of knowledge around things ADHD or HSP, highly sensitive persons or Asperger's or whatever. In that context, it's been quite fascinating. We have a project where we are doing a book, which is presenting the voices of coaches who have, who themselves ADHD or Asperger's or HSPs, and how they go about coaching. And it's very different, but they can be incredibly effective and have and HSPs, for example, can sense things that I wouldn't, and so beginning to see things through the eyes of our people who have these different conditions, because we recognize that there is value there. And I think once we recognize this value, we can start to have just the interaction that they have, and that leads us to understand our clients better. We've just starting a supervision group solely for people who have who are neurodivergent coaches. For neurodivergent coaches so they can actually come together and explore how they can be authentic in their coaching and really value using themselves. Is getting that awareness of these different areas and actually questioning how we go about the assumptions that we make, and that just helps us to see things differently and to appreciate and value the difference. So one of the things that gives us concern is that there's been a rise of courses that see how to deal with your neurodivergent clients. Problem with them all is that, or all of them, but the majority of the ones that we've seen all assume that the neurodivergent person has it's a problem for them that they have an it's an illegal disorder, but it's in that they may call it, but they have a problem they need to adjust the world around them when actually in it's not as simple as that. It's actually of how the world adjusts them that's far more important and relevant. So we've got lots of different if you. Really trying to understand things from those vectors, but that so that's so just getting to understand the way that they think, while the different people think, is really helpful.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you. If I could put a warning signal here is this. I have seen it frequently. When people learn about these the new fields. They don't just learn the boundaries from these studies that okay, this is where I don't go. Sometimes they get the self confidence to go there because they have the question, okay, now I know this. So I can go there, I work there, I can coach or whatever. There. My warning signal here is that I think we should pay more attention to the facts that where we can really have an impact or where we may not have an impact, and I think this is where we could open a new conversation about interventions in in coaching, mentoring, or in therapy or counseling, because I think there is a difference in The kinds of interventions that these professions might be using. It's

David Clutterbuck:

so tensely and it's a really stupid and safeguarding. When you you've got a little knowledge of what is ad what constitutes ADHD, or any of these done these traits, and you start to diagnose, you say, Ah, yes. And then coach says, Well, have you thought that you might have ADHD? Oh, ouch. Yeah, this is a breach. This is ethical breach, undoubtedly, because you're not qualified to make a diagnosis, and you've said, Well, I'm not making a diagnosis, but you are. You're suggesting this to somebody, but what you can do is to recommend them, to them just reading around different level, different kinds of divergence. And that's fine. That's it fits within the ethical boundaries. And then the person may come back to you and say, well, haven't looked at, I think probably X or Y, and you say, Well, do you feel that you need to go and get a formal diagnosis of this? And sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they say no, but you fulfilled your objective. You may suspect it, and you won't be right, or you may be wrong, but it's not for you to make that decision, so we have to be that's a real clear boundary that we have. I found it really helpful over the years, deliberately partner up with a therapist, work with with the same client. Now there's a lot of discussion, should you or shouldn't you? The answer is, the coach or the mentor can provide very different, more immediate, specifically practical support, while the therapist can actually help somebody with a much deeper level of understand self understanding and developing not just self awareness, but self efficacy. And talking with the therapist about your hunger approaches gives you a greater sensitivity to the way the boundaries lie.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you very much. And with your last sentences you for when you really circled back to the start of our conversation as well how these helping professionals can work together, because what I'm hearing is is your alliance with a therapist, both in the case of client work and both in the case of learnings on talking with them, increases of sensitivity. I did hear your comment on, well, we could open this up. I know that coaching slash mentoring could be more focused on the practical, more a bit more practical aspect of development, rather than the deeper self awareness, things that we should be giving to for the therapists. And I know that deeper is an interesting question that we could be dissecting here the loads of what does deeper mean? Fortunately, we have supervisors for that. And what I really liked in what you said is the importance of ethics. So it's not just the boundaries of competencies, or which profession should do what. But what does our Code of Ethics say about what we should be doing or how we should be approaching certain problems? So for me, ethics is sometimes more important than competency boundaries, and I dare to say this in front of the audience of the conference. Unfortunately, I'm not there, just like virtually, so they cannot have their revenge on me for that.

David Clutterbuck:

I think for the audience, many of you will be aware of the sense of competencies or standards, and the two things are not the same. So a competency seems to be much more prescriptive with standards much above so competencies can find you standards, basically, and provide a basis on which you can jump. So there is, there is a distinction between the two, but there's a lot of criticism from our particularly that we're identifying in our mature coach maturity work around do competency, where are competency beneficial, and where are they part of the problem? And one of the issues that comes up is the competencies are almost always based upon the past. They're backward looking. This is what people who define themselves, or have been defined as being good coaches. This is what they do. So you analyze the practice of competent practitioners, but when we look to the future, the competencies require artificial intelligence. For example, how do we use that? How do we use virtual reality, all of these things, these, these are competencies, and there are and so we're beginning to see the competencies need to embrace a future orientation as well as a past orientation. Now, how we do that? That's an interesting challenge.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you for saying that. Unfortunately, we are getting to the end of our time, so what I would like just to ask for is a closing words. So is there some final, you know, wisdom, one more advice that you would like to share with the audience of the conference before we close down this part of your being with us, and hopefully move to the more interactive parts of from the

David Clutterbuck:

recording. So thank you, Dolly. I think to everybody I'd like, I just like to say this is the most exciting time in coaching and mentoring that we've ever had. There is so much change going on. There's so much potential. And one of the ways the baskets that we've put this in is is looking at the the level of complexity that we're working with. We've identified 10 levels of complexity in coaching, and at moment, we're just most, you know, most coaches are just dealing with levels one, two and maybe three. But when you get into team coaching, your sort of house voice, but when you get to coaching teams of teams, when you're getting coaching all the way up to coaching the meta system, we have the potential to work in all 10 areas and what we have to do in coach education and in our own self development and self awareness as coaches, if we want the more we want to add value, what The way to add greater value is to actually deal or work at greater levels of complexity. When we're working with a team, we're delivering far more value than we do than we are working with an individual, for example. So how do we actually enable ourselves to take advantage of all of this potential? Because the world is getting more complicated. It needs coaches, and it needs coaches who are complexity aware. So we're entering a period of fantastic opportunity in many places. We don't know how we're going to contribute. We just know that somebody needs to step into that space to do it, and there isn't anybody else. There's no other profession that could that has the capacity to do this. I think that's amazing.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you very much, David, and thank you very much for all your wise words and for your time. Villains. I'd just like to say a big thank you on behalf of all of us hearing the conference and on behalf of the whole organizing committee and everyone who did their job in making this conference. Thank you very much,

David Clutterbuck:

and I'd like to say my thank you to all of you for being coaches, mentors and supervisors, because the world needs you.

Zoltán Csigás:

Thank you for listening to own coaching podcast where I have curious conversations with Virgin on coaches and researchers. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to rate us and subscribe. I also invite you to visit zoth and shigesh.com where you can access more resources regarding the coaching industry. Be well. You.

Hosted By

Zoltán Csigás

Executive Coach
I am a Coach, psychologist, podcaster and Official curious person. Supporting you in reaching relational leadership mastery.
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