David Clutterbuck - the father of modern mentoring in Europe


Empowerment Coaching Krakow Blog-David Clutterbuck bio
photo source: https://davidclutterbuckpartnership.com

Professor David Clutterbuck is described as the father of modern mentoring. He is one of the most prolific writers on management in Europe. He has written about 70 books and hundreds of articles on mentoring, coaching, and the broadly understood subject of management and leadership.


Professor Clutterbuck is also a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold two consulting firms. He is an excellent and extraordinary public speaker, enjoying great interest all over the world. According to data available on the Internet, he has at least 2,000 instances in his account.


One of his most important goals today is to train a population of five million coaches and mentors for primary school children over five years. A beautiful vision!


Key Facts:

  • In the early 1980s, he introduced mentoring in Europe

  • He is a co-founder of the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC) and is currently its Special Ambassador

  • Visiting professor at Henley Business School (Reading University), Sheffield Hallam, Oxford Brookes and York St John University

  • He runs a global network of coaching and mentoring experts, Coaching and Mentoring International

  • He has a reputation for asking "massively difficult questions" that make people and organizations think

  • Every year he takes up a new challenge and learns something new (e.g. he was a stand-up comedian for one year)

  • Works with learners and socially disabled children and adults to promote social inclusion

  • He is also the author of short stories for children

  • He chairs the London School of Comedy research committee that studies the effects of laughter on social and wellness

  • He loves being a grandfather!


Early life and the start of discoveries

Clutterbuck was born in 1947 in London. He has one sister, Susan. In May 1970 (quite quickly!) He married Paulina. They have four sons, and their fourth child has both Down syndrome and a diagnosis of autistic syndrome. This explains why both David and his wife are actively involved in creating opportunities for people with special needs.


His first education was a BA in English Literature from Christ's College, Finchley.


Already in 1969, at the age of 22, he started his first job. He started out as a journalist at the UK Government's Home Office, where he first edited a science journal for the British Nuclear Energy Society and then worked as a technology news editor at New Scientist.


Then he moved to McGraw-Hill as a managing journalist and here, as a representative of International Management magazine, he traveled the world and reported on good management practice.

In this role, he introduced many new ideas and management concepts to the Western world. Among them was what is now called 360 feedback. He discovered it in Russia, where it was designed by the communist trade union, the Komsomol, to keep managers in check.



Business activities

Clutterbuck's first company was The Item Group, a boutique internal communication consultancy, founded in 1982. It was the only one to survive in the top five boutiques after the industry collapsed in the late 1990s. In 2002, when the business was back to profit, Clutterbuck hired a financial advisor to conduct a management buyout of the company. Then The Item Group was sold at a profit to another consulting firm.


At the same time, in the 1980s, David formed Clutterbuck Associates operating in the business journalist sector. During this time, he published two groundbreaking books that popularized his name and helped to grow the company. Ultimately, Clutterbuck Associates was sold to the US outsourcing corporation GP Strategies in 2008.


The first book, The Winning Streak, written with Walter Goldsmith, then CEO of the Institute of Directors, and published in 1985, sold over 100,000 copies.

Conceived as the UK version of In Search of Excellence by Peters and Waterman, it used a more robust research method to identify common features of high-performing listed companies.

In the next volume, The Winning Streak Mark II, published in 1998, Clutterbuck and Goldsmith re-examined what happened to these companies over time, analyzing what it takes to stay on top.


The second book Everyone needs a mentor was a personal success for Clutterbuck. It was the first book on development mentoring to be published in Europe around the time Mentoring at Work was published in the United States by Kathy E. Kram. Kathy was a researcher at Boston University and had infected Clutterbuck with the subject of mentoring several years earlier. To date, the fifth edition of Clutterbuck's book has been published, and hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold around the world.


Warto wspomnieć, że te dwie książki nt. mentoringu reprezentują dwie różne tradycje i koncepcje tej metody rozwoju. W tradycji europejskiej mentor wykorzystuje swoją mądrość, aby pomóc innej osobie stać się mądrzejszą. W tradycji amerykańskiej ta rola jest przytłumiona przez bardziej praktyczną formę sponsoringu. Język użyty w każdym przypadku ilustruje różnicę: mentee (ktoś, komu pomagamy zastanowić się) kontra protege (dosłownie ktoś, kto jest chroniony). Clutterbuck często odnosił się do metafory mówiącej, że ta różnica dotyczy dwóch odrębnych manifestacji Bogini Ateny: jako Bogini Mądrości i jako Bogini Sztuk Walki.


In 1992, Clutterbuck collaborated with David Megginson to establish a European Mentoring Center at Sheffield Hallam University. The aim of the organization was to bring together scientists and practitioners in order to deepen knowledge and good practice in mentoring.

In 2002, coaching was also included, and EMC transformed into the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), currently the largest organization representing coaches and mentors in Europe.



At this point, Clutterbuck's path crossed the path of Sir John Whitmore, considered the father of business coaching, about whom we write separately in a dedicated column.


At EMCC, Clutterbuck has held a variety of roles, including Head of Research and now a Special Ambassador, responsible for supporting the development of new national divisions. In addition, in the 1990s, Clutterbuck's work, writing and consulting increasingly involved corporate governance. He became an advisor to the British National School of Government, designing board appraisal processes and training newly appointed directors.


From 2000, he focused on the exploration of mentoring, coaching, team coaching, and talent management. He led the team developing the International Standards for Mentoring and Coaching Programs and a series of further studies on coaching and mentoring, many of which questioned the assumptions made so far. For example, the book Beyond Goals - Effective Strategies for Coaching and Mentoring, co-written with Susan David and David Megginson, paints a much more complex picture of the goal-setting process and its achievement.


The authors write in it, among others:


What is there in developmental relationships beyond setting and striving to achieve goals? The presence of goals in coaching and mentoring programs has gone largely unquestioned, yet evidence is growing that the standard prescription of SMART, challenging goals is not always appropriate - and even potentially dangerous - in the context of a complex and rapidly changing world. Beyond Goals advances standard goal-setting theory by bringing together cutting-edge perspectives from leaders in coaching and mentoring. From psychology to neuroscience, from chaos theory to social network theory, the contributors offer diverse and compelling insights into both the advantages and limitations of goal pursuit. The result is a more nuanced understanding of goals, with the possibility for practitioners to bring greater impact and sophistication to their client engagements. The implications of this reassessment are substantial for all those practicing as coaches and mentors, or