Neuroscience in Coaching & Leadership

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a webinar on the neuroscience of our brains and how it relates to both coaching and leadership. When we feel threatened, unsafe or distressed, we are not able to think clearly, reason or be creative. Or for that matter, relate to others. Our brains work best when they are having fun and feeling relaxed.  Dr. David Rock developed the SCARF model that helps us understand dimensions from which a reward or threat response can start from.  Understanding this can be invaluable as we work with others either as coaches or as leaders of all sorts.


By Dr. David Rock

Status – a person’s own perception of their own status and relative importance.  As a leader, you can raise the status of others to help move them to a place of feeling safe and thereby more creative.

Certainty – Our brains like to have certainty and be able to predict the near future. Even small amounts of uncertainty will affect our brain’s ability to focus and use our pre-frontal cortexes for advanced reasoning. As a leader, you can ensure that others feel a sense of certainty.

Autonomy – Our brains need to perceive control over our environments, to have a sensation of having choices. Without this, we feel like we don’t have influence over outcomes in our lives. As a leader, you can give others autonomy by delegating authority and responsibility and by not micro-managing.

Relatedness – The feeling of being ‘in’ or ‘out’ of social groups. Our brains need to know if others are friend or foe, whether we have a sense of belonging and of experiencing safe social interactions. As a leader, you can model behavior that builds trust and psychological safety for your teams.

Fairness – Unfairness creates a strong threat response in our brains. Our brains need to feel that things are fair in order to be at their best. As a leader, you can significantly influence the sense of fairness in your team, group, department and organization.

In this YouTube video, you can listen to Dr. David Rock (approx. 8 min) elaborate on what makes us tick!

Looking forward to connecting with each of you! I’ve added a service called Coach Me Now which is for one-off sessions. You can easily book a session on my Pick-Time calendar here:

My availability is generally until M-F 19:00 CET and on Tuesdays until 21:00. If you don’t find a good slot, please contact me and we will find a good time together.

Have a great week forward everyone!