SCARF is useful as not just self awareness tool, to help individuals understand their own behaviours and what impacts them, but also useful in understanding our impact on others, and how other peoples needs in terms of within a social context may differ from our own. This is a nice way to introduce the fact two brains being alike, and how we all differ as humans, and relevant at all levels within an organisation.
SCARF is has five domains based on David Rock’s research of the brain. The domains are Status – where you stand vs other people around you, Certainty – what is your need to have clarity vs living more ambiguously, Autonomy – your need for independent working Relatedness – the need of having close and personal relationships and Fairness – ensuring that the give and take in a situation is of the right balance.
SCARF is a relatively easy model to understand and apply. In a sense SCARF gives us the broad parameters on how a persons brain is functioning and therefore help understand certain behaviours. There is no right or wrong SCARF model, it is about who you are and in that sense helps broaden the scope of application even more. Leaders may use it for leadership assessment, team building, recruiting, developing talent or even retaining talent.
I have written a critical commentary on how the SCARF model can be applied to employee retention. To better understand which domain is causing a person to be demotivated and disengaged or even to resign helps a leader to have a deeper conversation. Instead of assuming that someone wants more pay or to be promoted, this conversation gives a deeper understanding to a persons mind at how it may work. The SCARF model helps a leader pinpoint the domain that may be triggering the response to want to leave the organisation. An understanding of the model will also help in having regular one on one conversations with employees to keep them engaged and involved instead of it being once off at the time when an employee
One of the Leadership Competencies we suggest leaders build in our organisation in order to be successful is “networking”. Networking means to be able to build relationships across hierarchies, functions and divisions in the organization and outside to be able to be a more effective leader. We provide leaders with a software package that helps them manage networks, understand in which areas they need to build more networks (with the company or outside etc) and how often should they be reaching out to different people. Networking is often without an agenda. It’s “lets catch up for coffee because I’m in town” or “let me send you my latest article that I wrote in a magazine”. However I have noticed that either leaders take to this like a fish to water – easily, happy to build networks and thrive on building relationship that help them through their careers or there are leaders who simply cringe at the idea. These leaders think its an overburden and goes beyond the duty of work.
After understanding the SCARF model and Relatedness, I realise why there are these two different pools of leaders, who may be competent in their own way but feel differently to the concept of networking. It means that different leaders have different needs of relatedness, and as an organisation we need to understand these needs. Often times not wanting or not needing to “network” impedes a leaders career, but it now seems that there is intervention needed to help the leader meet his capacity of Relatedness and for the organization to understand the varied needs in an individual.
It will be important to probably have stages in the process of networking, to help address this issue. Stage one as a basic networking skill, how many people do you interact with within your department, Stage two could be interact within your function and Stage 3 could be interact within the company. This could be taught as a skill building process instead of such expecting people to take it up and master it since that seems dependant on the dominance of Relatedness domain in ones brain.
“Cells that fire together wire together” means that synapses or unions between neurons get solidified more often the respective neurons “talk” to each other. In our brains, neurons connect to other neurons to form a neural network. Each connecting point is associated with a thought or memory. The brain builds up all its concepts by the law of associative memory. Ideas, thoughts and feelings are all constructed and interconnected within this neural network, and have a possible relationship with one another. If you practice something over and over again those nerve cells have a long-term relationship. For example, a famous experiment found that boys who mentally rehearsed shooting baskets improved more than the boys who actually practiced.
Last week I was moderating a panel discussion at a Women Conference. This panel was a large one with three speakers whom I knew and three who were new to me. They were senior professionals and since the topic was Advantage Women with a 1700 women audience I knew it had to be managed really well for it to have true impact. As a part of the preparation I first researched a set of questions that I would ask the members on the panel based on what I thought the audience may want to hear, then I researched the bio’s of the three new people and looked for their photographs (I needed a face to the name), after which I tried to connect questions to each individual who I thought may have the best set of experiences in answering the question. In my mind I rehearsed the flow – the introductions, the fun elements, the serious elements, the expressions on the faces of each panel member, how I would move from one panel member to another seamlessly and how I would wrap up. I went through that a few times for a few days until I felt well prepared and” felt” a sense of satisfaction and the end of the session.
This, I think is a great example of creating a neural network – where I could rehearse the process, feel the emotions in my body and help make a seemingly challenging task successful with great ease.
As a leadership coach, this is a strategy I like to share with some of my coachees who struggle with Executive Presence.
Kalpana Sinha is a Leadership and Organisation Professional. Her blog has reflections from her work experiences of over 20 years.