Deeper FACTS – From Dependence to Interdependence

This week John and I presented to the Bristol and Bath Coaching Group. After discussing the FACTS coaching model we talked about chapter 10 of “Challenging Coaching” and what we call the ‘deeper FACTS ‘ for the first time. In chapter 10 we move our focus from the balance of support and challenge in coaching to the balance of freedom and responsibility in the world at large.

There are two reasons why we have not  spoken about this before in seminars and workshops. Firstly, at previous workshops exploring the principles and cornerstones of FACTS coaching has always taken up the allotted time. Secondly, and more importantly, we have shied away from talking about the ‘deeper FACTS’ and the concepts in chapter 10 because they represent a challenging conceptual leap. You could say we have avoided entering our own zone of uncomfortable debate (ZOUD)!

To paraphrase John Whitmore “Coaching is bigger than coaching” and this is the premise of the deeper FACTS. We make the conceptual leap from support and challenge to freedom and responsibility. With support comes freedom, and with challenge comes responsibility.  This idea is developed in the 2×2 matrix below:


We have a hypothesis that states that the western society/work environment has moved from dependence to independence and that in the future we will see the move towards interdependence. For example, traditionally workers were in command and control environments, boss and subordinate, which is low freedom and low responsibility. Individuals have limited freedom as they are told what to do by their boss, and also limited responsibility, as the boss is accountable.  However, we are noticing a move away from the command and control cultures. The epoch of the heroic leader is over. Generation X and Y are demanding more freedom and independence. There is the expectation of more autonomy and flexibility to satisfy broader needs. However, this is still a relatively individual pursuit of a person’s own needs. Interdependence recognises that I can only be truly free if other people are also free. We are in a connected system, we are interdependent. There is collective freedom but also a collective responsibility.

Coaching has an important role in helping people move from dependence to independence and ultimately to interdependence.However, there is no short cut. I can not go straight from dependence to interdependence. Independence is the foundation for interdependence. Metaphorically speaking I need to walk the road and experience all of the places along the way. It is the journey which creates understanding and the wisdom needed for interdependence to flourish.

The table below summarises some of the differences between these three phases:

Dependence Independence Interdependence
Focus on belonging and security Focus on status and achievements Focus on meaning and purpose
Command and control Empowerment Coaching
Boss/subordinate Leader/follower We/us
Exploited Exploiter Partner
Conform Compete Collaborate
Powerless Powerful Power sharing
“I am safe” “I am safe and I am free” “We are safe and we are free and we are responsible”

I remember a few years ago and in the early days of Challenging Coaching that we presented to a seminar of coaches and introduced the need for coaches to be more challenging as we have a big role to play in transforming business and individual performance. This was in the midst of the credit crunch and with the launch of our first book “Where were all the coaches when the banks went down?” One member of the audience commented that this belief was incredibly arrogant as we are ‘only coaches’.

Maybe it is the memory of feedback like this that has held us back from talking about the ‘deeper FACTS’. However, we whole-heartedly agree with John Whitmore that coaching is bigger than coaching. Take the quote from Margaret Mead that “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.

What do you think, can coaching change the world? visit our Linked In Challenging Coaching Group and post a comment.

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