Including a case study using Dr David Rock’s SCARF Model
A recent coaching session and my client (let’s call him Jim), turns up (on zoom) in a less than positive mood. His body language is the first clue. He wasn’t as ready as usual to engage. Eye contact was fleeting, and his stance was slouched and lacking energy. After the usual pleasantries, I was keen to hear what has been happening and how things have progressed. I adjusted my energy level, tone and enquiry to match what I was sensing, that something was bothering him.
Noticing body language
Jim thought I hadn’t noticed his mood and was surprised I had picked this up so quickly. We humans do this all the time. We sense and draw conclusions. Some are better at it than others, some are wise enough to what they are sensing; and some have little awareness of their own state, let alone that of another!
The situation – a team restructure
Jim is a senior manager, with structural changes in his team on the Exec’s. agenda. His is not the only team being reviewed, though it has come as a surprise as the team and company have performed well. He was waiting for the Exec. to respond to the ideas he and his team have put forward. It might appear obvious what was bothering Jim, but some deeper exploration helped to reveal more specifics. So, we examined the situation in terms of the SCARF model.
S.C.A.R.F. a model from Dr David Rock
The model is based on brain imaging results. These showed direct brain activity of threat (through the release of adrenaline and cortisol); or reward, (when dopamine, oxytocin or serotonin are released) in relation to these five SCARF areas.
The SCARF model in action – a case study
When in limbo
As Jim waited for the decision, an assessment of the SCARF model revealed he felt his Status (how he is valued) was at risk. Thoughts around, what if his ideas were not given credence? How would that make him look to the Exec and his team?
Certainty was one of the big issues for Jim during the waiting period. This is because your brain stimulates strong alarm signals (fight or flight symptoms) when unsure.
Jim felt that Autonomy was also feeling jeopardised as the decision was now out of his hands, he had minimal control.
Jim described the Relatedness area as wavering as he had good relationships with most of the Exec. It could change depending on how they handle the messaging of the decision. If done badly or thoughtlessly, even the ‘best’ decision could cause the Relatedness area to be bruised for some time.
As for Fairness, Jim was pleased to have been listened to so far.
Getting the desired outcome
By putting a situation that generates feelings such as, comfort, joy or happiness into the SCARF model, it can show how the situation is having non damaging or boosting effects across the five SCARF areas.
If Jim’s ideas are taken on by the Exec, he said he would feel that his Status (how he is valued by others), will be in a good place, maybe enhanced even.
His sense of Certainty (uncertainty is one of the brains biggest ‘threat’ stimulators), would be clearer and this would be a relief.
His level of Autonomy (the amount of control in the situation) would be in a better place, so focus and direction could be worked on.
Because you and I are ‘wired’ to sense if others are a friend or a foe, Relatedness with the decision makers according to Jim, would be stable. How the decision was made, with his team’s views being considered also sat well within Jim’s Fairness assessment.
What if it doesn’t go his way?
Jim’s reaction, messaging and behaviour, will impact his Status with others. Jim has ‘Autonomy’ over his behaviour and reactions. Yet, how can he keep the Relatedness area in a positive place with his team?
We explored several potential decisions and how his team member’s own SCARFs may be impacted. This allowed for exploration into shifting a person from a ‘threat’ response (e.g. blame, anger, defensiveness) to one that finds opportunities. Jim gained confidence and courage through this preparation for the more difficult outcome, should that be the result. This confidence fed positively into his Autonomy needs.
The Headstrong Coaching Programme
The SCARF model is one of the tools referenced in my ‘Headstrong’ Coaching programme. To find out more about this programme, as an individual or as part of management development for your business, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for more information