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What does SCARF have to do with Leadership?

David Rock's SCARF Model is a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. It's particularly useful for collaborating with others and coaching others.

Simply put, it helps anyone work with others more effectively.

The Model was developed in 2008 by David Rock and SCARF stands for the five key "domains" that influence our behavior in social situations:

  • Status – our relative importance to others.

  • Certainty – our ability to predict the future.

  • Autonomy – our sense of control over events.

  • Relatedness – how safe we feel with others.

  • Fairness – how fair we perceive the exchanges between people to be.

The model is based on neuroscience research that implies that these five social domains activate the same threat and reward responses in our brain that we rely on for physical survival.

Here’s an excerpt we found especially fascinating:

“…in most people, the question ‘can I offer you some feedback’ generates a similar response to hearing fast footsteps behind you at night. Performance reviews often generate status threats, explaining why they are often ineffective at stimulating behavioral change. If leaders want to change others’ behavior, more attention must be paid to reducing status threats when giving feedback. One way to do this is by allowing people to give themselves feedback on their own performance.”

SCARF A Brain-based Model for Collaborat
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