Center for Mentoring Excellence

Mentoring Matters

March 2014
Volume 5 | Issue 3
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Mentoring: Strategies
for Success
One Day Program
Monday, March 17, 2014
Tempe, AZ

Mentoring 1
For more information click below to visit the event website for the

Books David Clutterbuck 
is reading!
Thinking fast and slow

The Allure of Toxic Leaders

Ethical Maturing

Books by David Clutterbuck 
Everyone needs a mentor

Beyond Goals

David Clutterbuck In this issue we interview David Clutterbuck, prolific author - over 50 books - and mentoring expert. Clutterbuck introduced "supported mentoring" to Europe in early 1980s and co-founded European Mentoring & Coaching Council (now Special Ambassador for the EMCC). He leads Coaching and Mentoring International, a global network of mentoring experts and trainers. 

MM: You've been focused on mentoring for many years. What is it about mentoring that makes it resonate so deeply for you?


DC: I was first introduced to mentoring by Kathy Kram, who interviewed me in the early 1980's. In 1985 we simultaneously published our first books on mentoring - hers on her research, mine on mentoring programs. From then on, mentoring somehow took charge of my life. I have always been fascinated by how people learn and, in particular, by how they gain wisdom. The instinct to be a mentor is hard-wired within humans and we have seen it emerge in kids as young as seven. Helping someone else to learn and grow, and to shape and pursue their dreams, is deeply affirming to both parties. I have been astounded at how widely mentoring can be applied, at all stages in someone's career (we've even seen mentoring into death!) and in all cultures and societies. A large part of its power is that it provides a safe haven for honest, learning focused dialogue something that many people rarely, if ever, experienced in other contexts. 

MM: How has your work on/thinking about mentoring changed/evolved over time?


DC:  At first, I went along with Kathy's analysis of the role of the mentor and how mentoring worked. Then, when we tried to apply those concepts in Northern Europe, it rapidly became clear that the model she described was culturally bounded. So we listened to what people thought mentoring should be from the perspective of the UK, Eire, and Scandinavia in particular. The model that emerged was much less directive, less about using the power and influence of the mentor, less about tapping into the mentor's experience and wisdom than helping the learner develop their own wisdom. We now talk about this form of mentoring as "developmental mentoring" and describe it as "helping the mentee with the quality of their thinking about issues important to them." We describe Kathy's original model of mentoring as "sponsorship mentoring." I demonstrated in a longitudinal study of mentoring relationships that the two models are, indeed, different constructs. It's interesting that much of the mentoring in the US still refers to protégé (literally someone, who is protected), which emphasizes the power differential between the two parties. 


For quite a while, I saw these two models as competitive. It gradually became obvious, however, that they can be complimentary and that relationships can evolve from one model to the other. Sponsorship mentoring seems to work better in countries or organizations with high power distance and in cultures where there is a high individual achievement motivation; developmental mentoring seems to work best where people are learning (mastery) oriented.


MM: Your most recent work offers up some new thinking about the goal setting process. Can you give our readers a touch and a taste of what that is all about?


DC: When I did my PhD on developmental mentoring, one of the side issues I looked into was the impact of goal clarity, goal, commitment and having a shared sense of relationship purpose. To my surprise, there was statistically no significant correlation between goal clarity and goal commitment and either the quality of the relationship or the outputs from the relationship, for either mentor or mentee. But, there was a moderate to high correlation between shared sense of purpose and both relationship quality and outcomes for the mentee. From subsequent interviews, it became clear that in many cases (perhaps most) goals were emergent. The relationship was more about helping the mentee work out what their goals were, than how to get there. Indeed, having decided what they wanted and why, many mentees didn't need a lot more help from their mentor.  


We've since found from our studies of coaching that the same is the case there. Indeed, trying to focus too soon on SMART goals can be damaging to the coachee. In our new book, Beyond Goals, we argue that a much more nuanced view of the role of goals is needed and that perspective is supported by a surprisingly wide range of top thinkers in coaching, motivational theory and goal theory.


MM: What are the most challenging aspects of the goal setting process?


DC: The instinct to start with a very specific goal is very strong - and dangerous! It's the lazy way out for a coach or mentor, because it gives conversations an artificial structure that acts to blinker them from wider contexts or alternative goals. It's much harder (but much more effective and client-centered) to start by helping the person discover their own identity and values. When you do that, very different goals usually emerge. What's more, you can be reasonably sure that these goals are truly what the person wants, not an obligation they have absorbed from elsewhere.


MM: In your opinion, what three strategies are the most important to ensure mentoring success?


DC: It depends on whether you are talking about mentoring programs or mentoring relationships. For programs, the three key elements are: (1) Is there a trained program manager, supported by top management? (2) Is the program designed to meet international standards? There are now two sets of recognized standards, which can be broadly categorized as developmental mentoring - the International Standards for Mentoring Programmes in Employment - and sponsorship (from the International Mentoring Association. Both provide a rigorous approach to program quality. (3) Continuous but unobtrusive support for participants all of whom must be trained in their roles. Not training mentees/ protégés is one of the most common causes of program failure!


For mentoring relationships, key elements include: (1) Commitment by both parties to honesty and constructive challenge, which requires in turn an environment of psychological safety. (2) Frequent review of the relationship and quality of learning. (3) Planning for a good ending - 80% of relationships that "drift away" are remembered by one or both parties negatively.  

IMA Logo
Gilbert (Phoenix), AZ
March 12 - 14, 2014

Lois Zachary
Keynote Speaker: Lois Zachary

Put on Your Thinking Caps
Learn New Ideas and Strategies for Program Growth
Connect with Peers
Get Tools and Resources
Have FUN! 

 A Note to Our Readers:

We believe that leaders cannot be effective without a strong and ongoing commitment to mentoring excellence. This belief, our passion for mentoring excellence, and our extensive experience in the field with organizations led us to create the Center for Mentoring Excellence. At our virtual center,, you will find mentoring tools and resources, expert advice and a forum for sharing best mentoring practices. We hope that you will visit us there and let us know how we can continue to help you raise the bar on mentoring in your organization.