Well Being

The SCARF Model and Neuroleadership


The SCARF model and the concept of neuroleadership were both devised for the purposes of team management. They’re supported by evidence from the fields of neuroscience and social psychology. Their objective is to consolidate leadership. The idea is that groups perform better thanks to the optimization of the functioning of the nervous system.

It was Dr. David Rock, founder of the Neuro-Leadership Institute who coined the term neuroleadership and proposed the SCARF model. He described them in an article entitled, The Neuroscience of Leadership.

Since then, this perspective that unites neuroscience, leadership, and productivity has been developed further. In fact, it’s been found that to optimize ways of working, the functioning of the brain must be taken into account. With this in mind, we’re going to explore the concept of neuroleadership and examine the SCARF method.

“In reality, it seeks to change the concept of employees to that of followers, leaving behind terms such as clients, subordinates or simply workers. People are moved by convictions and also by personal values, with a strong and rooted culture and, fundamentally, with a vision and a mission shared by all.”

-Jesús Gómez-


Most leadership and teamwork models start from the basis that the mind is rational. That said, neuroscience claims that this idea is far from being exact. This is because a large percentage of brain activity is unconscious.

It’s estimated that the human brain is capable of receiving up to 400 billion bits per minute. However, it only manages to consciously process about 2,000 bits.

It was data like this that led David Rock to propose that team management would be far more effective based on findings from neuroscience. He called the concept neuroleadership. He proposed seven objectives for personnel management:

  1. Getting the team to lose their fear of failure.
  2. Getting group members to develop empathy.
  3. Promoting skills such as creativity, self-control, and self-criticism.
  4. Increasing the ability to discover and channel the talent of collaborators.
  5. Cultivating early detection abilities of productive or business opportunities.
  6. Promoting an attitude of greater capacity to take risks. In addition, to be less attached to the comfort zone.
  7. Driving intelligence to find a match between individual, team, and organizational goals.
The neuroleadership model pursues the best possible performance of the workgroup.

The SCARF model

Based on the lines proposed by David Rock, one question took center stage: how could they achieve the objectives of neuroleadership? In response, he developed the SCARF model. The term is an acronym for five principles: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

S for status

This refers to the need to achieve greater respect or esteem from others. In fact, scientists have discovered that status is more valued than money or property. Exercising neuroleadership in this aspect is equivalent to offering sustainable forms of recognition, beyond awards or promotions. This is because people want to feel important, not rewarded or punished.

C for certainty

Certainty concerns reducing uncertainty around orders, plans, and the future of an organization. The brain needs to find predictable patterns. Indeed, the unforeseen generates states of alert. Unsurprisingly, they subtract energy and can lead to stress.

A for autonomy

To a great extent, the motivation of an individual or a team depends on the sensation of having control over circumstances. Therefore, the impossibility of making decisions regarding issues that directly involve them is a factor that can demotivate and even depress them.

R for relatedness

The SCARF model takes into account the natural instinct of the human being to belong to a group. This leads to them feeling more secure, confident, and willing to collaborate with others.  As such, neuroleadership must create safe spaces where individuals feel accepted and connected to others.

F for fairness

People feel more committed to reciprocating with others when they’re convinced that they’re being treated fairly. This promotes co-responsibility and trust. Indeed, these are two decisive factors in the well-being of a team.

Work couple celebrate an achievement
The SCARF technique assists brain needs that are related to productivity and dialogue.


The SCARF model of neuroleadership aims to address some of the needs of the brain detected by neuroscience. More specifically, those related to dialogue and productivity. Consequently, this method is more focused on the subjectivity of the individual and not so much on the objectivity of the organization.

This means that all activity is structured around how to make it possible for each individual to contribute the best of themselves to a team. It’s an interesting perspective. Moreover, there can be little doubt that it’ll be frequently and increasingly used in the business world.

The post The SCARF Model and Neuroleadership appeared first on Exploring your mind.


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