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Reflections on Life and Coaching

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The team coaching genius, David Clutterbuck was with us in the last episode of The xMonks Drive podcast, and it was centered around one thing-Coaching. Here is  an edited transcript of the conversation on coaching, mentoring and why leadership is hinted at with narcissism.

How Would David Define Coaching

Gaurav: So let me just ask you a very basic question. I’m sure it’s going to be beneficial for all the aspiring coaches and all the seasoned coaches as well. So how do you define coaching?

David: Well, coaching, coaching is a conversation. And in a conversation that links the internal world of somebody with the external world, what’s happening outside, so it’s about creating understanding of who we are, our fears, our ambitions, our aspirations, our values.

And then it’s a conversation. The other conversation is a conversation about the outer world, the threats, the opportunities, who’s championing and who’s not? What’s that? What’s the technology changing? What’s changing, what’s happening in the marketplaces and so forth. Also what coaching does is actually to link those internal conversations, a deeper understanding of yourself with a deeper understanding of the world around you, so that you can make better decisions.

Coaching Vs. Mentoring

Gaurav: How would you define what coaching is? And what is mentoring? How are they different from each other? 

David: The idea that coaching is directive and mentoring and not is complete total nonsense. Okay, let’s go back to the origins of coaching for most of its history and coaching, the word coach came as a joke, in 1851. 

For me, it was because the coach was a tutor, a very high priced tutor taking students as if they were being dragged behind a bunch of horses, through their exams, and the students had not done any work. So they need a high price directive tutor, okay, and then he got it, then it got applied to rowing. And it was felt that coaching was unsportsmanlike that gave you an unfair advantage, and then to tennis. And so pretty much all of its history, coaching has been a highly directive form of Jewishness.

And, then the look into it went away and who began to change the way that people thought about this. And consciously or unconsciously drawing upon the history of mentoring, in order to look to say, Well, actually, people have got the answers within themselves.

But what Timothy Galway and others missed out was this concept of wisdom. Mentoring is placed in the concept of wisdom, the original mentor was Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

And, and so what mentors do is actually help somebody become wiser, it’s much more about growing up, becoming the person you want you aspire to be. And so it’s about the stages of somebody’s development moving through, sort of teenage that kind of mentality of a teenager, and gradually growing into a mature human being at different levels. The work of Robert Keegan, on the evolving self is wonderful in terms of tracking that journey to real maturity and wisdom.

Whereas coaching is about skills and primarily and all of goalwards was how do you learn this skill of playing tennis, for example. And coaching is gradually expanded into territory such as behavior, and personal transformation. So it started to meld with the origins of mentoring. But if you want to look for the real history of mentoring, we go back to the court of King Louie the 16th, the son King, and his son, the dolphin that who was supposed to take over from him was a total complete, right.

And a little occurred called Finland that was given the task to educate this young man. And he emulated what the goddess Athena did. So he sat down with this young prince, whenever the prince had an experience, you had your tears or rage or whatever, sit down with him, and he would share he would get him to talk about it. It’s getting to look into himself and to understand his experience. And then to relate that experience to the person he aspired to become.

Gradually, he turned this young brat into a personal young man to become a leader or ruler. In fact, this is the first leadership book in Europe. So that the whole context here is one we’re coaching as a newcomer, it’s taken a lot of clothes off the close of mentoring, but it’s much narrower and it’s concepts.

That is, although you get things like life coaching, life coaching is not mentoring.

How Much Narcissism Is Good For A Leader?

Gaurav: David, coming to the next question, you spoke about the learning part of it, the practices that we were talking about. And without mentioning the names, because I’m sure as much as I have my journey, you have your journey, people have their own journeys. But I’m really curious, where does that narcissism come from?

 David: It’s a general question, not only for coaches, but for people as well. The leader says, well, where does that narcissism come from? I think, of course, we all have to admit, we have some narcissism in this. Some people have more than others, it’s when we have too much narcissism, that it becomes a, that becomes a real problem a little bit is really important for taking care of ourselves. But having a sense of our own value and what we can contribute to the world. If we’ve had no narcissist, then we would, we would not be able to, to give as much as we do. 

So when it’s excessive, it’s what drives people, and their inability to be honest with themselves. So when it gets in the way of their humility that’s when one needs to check. 

“Narcissism and humility are two things that balance each other. So when we are, if we are unable to be humble, because we are so narcissistic, then we have a real problem.”

And we see this in so many leaders. And it’s one and particularly this where narcissism is combined with some sociopathic traits.

 These leaders become divisive.

About The Speaker: David Clutterbuck

Professor David Clutterbuck is credited with introducing sponsored mentorship to Europe in the early 1980s. He combines a wealth of research-based knowledge and experience to deliver a pragmatic, evidence-based approach to coaching, mentoring, and talent management as an EMCC Master Practitioner (EIA, ESIA, and IPMA).

David is the author or co-author of almost 70 books. He is a visiting professor in four universities’ departments of coaching and mentoring – Henley Business School, Oxford Brookes, Sheffield Hallam, and York St John – as well as a visiting lecturer at a number of overseas universities. David is a practice lead at Coaching and Mentoring International Limited, a global network of researchers, trainers and consultants specializing in coaching and mentoring in over 100 countries.

David’s current research interests include coach maturity transitions, the role of artificial intelligence in coaching, the ripple impact of mentoring, and the democratisation/decolonization of coaching. Among his numerous humanitarian endeavours is the goal of establishing five million coaches and mentors for children in elementary school.

Outside of work, David’s hobbies include the use of humour for social and emotional well-being, authoring children’s books, ice skating, and travelling to distant regions of the world. Each year, he sets a new learning objective for himself.

 Get hold of this Clutterbuck Conversation at The xMonks Drive podcast here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How would you define coaching?

Coaching is a dialogue. And it’s about developing comprehension of who we are, our anxieties, our desires, our aspirations, and our values in a discussion that connects someone’s internal world with the external world, what’s going on outside.

Is mentoring a deeper understanding of yourself?

Yes, mentoring is a deeper understanding of yourself. It connects those internal talks, allowing you to have a greater understanding of yourself as well as the world around you, allowing you to make better judgments.

What is the difference between Coaching and Mentoring?

Coaching and Mentoring are not the same. Coaching is about developing comprehension of who we are, our anxieties, our desires, our aspirations, and our values in a discussion that connects our internal world with the external world while Mentoring is assisting people in getting wiser; yet, it is far more about growing up and becoming the person you want to be.

What is the history of Coaching?

The word coaching came as a joke in 1851. At the time, the coach was a tutor, a very expensive instructor who dragged students through their tests as though they were being dragged behind a herd of horses, despite the fact that the pupils had done little work.

What does a mentor do?

Mentors assist people in getting wiser; yet, it is far more about growing up and becoming the person you want to be. So it’s about progressing through the stages of a person’s growth, from adolescence to adulthood, and gradually maturing into a mature human being at various levels.

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