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Speaking Topics

Speaking Topics

David’s wide range of expertise in management gives him an extensive portfolio of topics. However, they fall under four main headings: coaching and mentoring, top teams and boards, business & personal excellence and after dinner speaking.

Coaching and mentoring

David Clutterbuck is one of the most stimulating, engaging speakers on the international circuit. He presents complex topics in accessible language, with anecdote, humour and wealth of research-based evidence.


Making mentoring work

David led the team that developed the International Standards for Mentoring Programmes in Employment. In this seminar, he uses research and numerous case studies to illustrate what an effective mentoring programme looks alike and how to sustain it.


Advanced techniques clinic

Based on the two volumes of Techniques in Coaching and Mentoring, and on continuous, international research into good practice, this seminar invites the audience to reflect upon their personal practice. David explores the role of tools and techniques and how to balance depth and breadth of response when helping clients think through their issues. He presents a wide range of practical approaches for addressing client issues and assists the audience in experimenting with them.

Coaching the team

Based on the book Coaching the Team at Work, this seminar looks at the differences between coaching individuals and coaching teams. David explores the additional competencies coaches require to be effective in this very demanding role and the practicalities of managing the four-way relationship between the team, its manager, the organisation. He also presents a range of techniques and approaches team coaches can apply.

How to assess the RoI from coaching and mentoring in your organisation

It’s a sad fact that much coaching and mentoring is poor value for money. In this seminar, David provides an extensive good practice overview and case studies of how organizations are evaluating the RoI on their investment. Key topics he will cover include:

  • Valid and invalid approaches to evaluating coaching quality (client feed is one of the least reliable forms of evidence)
  • The use of Coach Assessment Centres to identify which externally resourced coaches are value for money (typically 70% of the coaches companies are using prove not to be!)
  • Outcomes measurement in developmental mentoring

Myths and misapprehensions in coaching and mentoring

Many assumptions about coaching and mentoring are based on anecdote or poor research, or both. In this seminar, David challenges a range of unevidenced or poorly evidence myths, including:

  • It’s important to have SMART goals at the beginning of a coaching or mentoring assignment (actually it is frequently dysfunctional)
  • Coaches don’t need expertise in the client’s area of operation (actually, this may be unsafe, unethical or both)
  • Coaching and mentoring are the same thing (they have different purposes, though they use many approaches in common)
  • Coaching Is less directive than mentoring; or vice versa (both have forms, which can be either)
  • Line managers can’t be real coaches


Mentoring and the diversity agenda

In this seminar, David examines the role of mentoring in supporting diversity objectives; offering practical skills for the mentor in a cross-culture or cross-gender developmental relationship. Key topics include:

  • Upward or reverse mentoring
  • Improving the quality of dialogue in the diverse learning relationship
  • Practical tools and techniques

How to create a coaching climate

Based on David’s book, Making Coaching Work, this seminar offers practical guidance on how to build a culture supportive of continuous learning. Key topics include:

  • How to recognise and overcome barriers to a coaching culture
  • The critical role of being coached
  • How to create and maintain a coaching culture at team level
  • How to measure progress towards becoming a coaching culture
  • What strategies have most chance of success?

David presents a number of case studies and invites participants to engage in reflective exercises that explore the coaching culture in their own organizations.


Coaching, mentoring and work-life balance

Work-life balance issues arise as a topic in a high proportion of coaching and mentoring relationships. Addressing WLB issues may be essential, before progress can be made on the client’s main agenda. It’s important that a coach/ mentor has sufficient understanding of the dynamics of WLB to help the client reflect and make sometimes complex and emotional decisions. In this seminar, David provides practical tools and approaches, along with opportunities to practise on peers.


Top teams and Boards


The critical questions every Board should ask itself

As the master of the “Bloody Difficult Question” David has worked with many Boards and top teams helping them to identify and address questions that challenge their assumptions, behaviours and strategies. In this seminar, he facilitates discussion around a selection of powerful questions on themes including:


  • How the Board adds value
  • The quality of dialogue and decision-making
  • How the Board role models organisational values
  • Attitudes towards risk and innovation
  • How the Board connects and communicates with the organization


Stepping up to the Board

This one-day event aimed at newly appointed or aspiring directors covers the key behavioural competences of directors. It answers questions including:


  • What do directors do that makes their role different from management?
  • How can directors contribute fully to Board discussions?
  • What roles should a director play outside the boardroom?
  • What does a mature Board look like?
  • How can directors maintain their continuous professional development?


The effective non-executive director

How do non-executives make a difference? David draws on a wide variety of evidence, including his own co-authored book, The Independent Board Director, to explore the NED role. Among issues he addresses are:


  • When and how should the NED challenge?
  • What should the NED do outside Board meetings?
  • When should the NED resign?
  • The NED as mentor
  • How deeply should the NED get to know the business?
  • How should the NED’s contribution be measured?


Business and personal excellence


Doing it different

Based on the book of the same title, this seminar explores the value of taking a radically different perspective on how businesses do business. A starting point is to ask, what would happen if we did everything the opposite way to everyone else? David introduces practical ways, in which organisations and teams can question what they do and use the resultant learning to improve business processes.

From survival to revival to thrival: the leadership role

Presentation and discussion on how leadership style and approach needs to adapt to economic realities; and the critical importance of dialogue at each stage. 

Managing work-life balance

David’s research and publication in the field of work-life balance centres on the practicalities of taking charge of work / non-work conflict both as individuals and organizations. Seminars can focus on either the individual agenda, or on corporate strategies for work-life balance.

Why succession planning doesn’t work and what to do about it

David’s current research into the realities of succession planning show that it is typically based on a number of widely held assumptions, for which there is no evidence. For example, the notion that someone’s boss is the best person to recognise their talent is manifestly untrue. In this seminar, David explores the evidence about succession planning and offers alternative approaches, based on the quality of conversations about careers.

After dinner speaking

“If work’s not fun, try something else.”

When the occasion warrants, David happily puts the silly into facilitator and the floss into philosophy. His irreverent take on the world of business questions a swathe of conventional wisdom, making serious points about effective leadership through anecdote, humour and the occasional limerick. He explains: “Close under the surface of every management initiative and every management trend lies the reality of the ridiculous. If organisations and their leaders can’t laugh at themselves, others will. The business of wealth creation is too important to be taken seriously….”

The academic community and management consultants are not spared either. David’s Typology of laughter parodies scientific method, while his descriptions of how consultants perceive the client relationship have an embarrassing accuracy.

To book David for speaking engagements, contact: Brendan O’Connor at the London Speakers Bureau,, Tel: +44(0)20 8748 9595

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