August 10, 2023
For Teams

SCARF Model for Team Motivation

By applying the SCARF model, team leaders can identify and address potential social threats and rewards within each domain, crafting an environment that motivates their team

What is the SCARF model?

SCARF model is a framework developed by David Rock, a neuroleadership expert, to understand and address human behaviour and motivation in group situations. It is a model that can be easily applied to leadership to assess and shape team motivation.

There are 5 domains in total - Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.

  • Status is about where you are in relation to others around you. Enhancing status involves factors such as recognition, respect, and the ability to contribute meaningfully.
  • Certainty concerns being able to predict the future. Increasing certainty involves providing clear expectations, setting goals, and communicating transparently.
  • Autonomy provides a sense of control over events. Granting autonomy involves delegating responsibilities, encouraging creative problem-solving, and allowing individuals to have input in decision-making processes.
  • Relatedness is a sense of safety with others. Building relatedness involves creating a supportive and inclusive team culture and fostering opportunities for social interactions.
  • Fairness is a perception of impartial exchanges between people. Promoting fairness involves ensuring consistent and transparent processes, providing equal opportunities, and addressing conflicts or biases promptly.

For each of these domains, there are reward triggers, which increase motivation, and threat triggers, which decrease motivation.

By creating an environment that enhances the five domains, leaders can increase team motivation, collaboration, and overall performance. However, it's important to note that individual preferences and needs may vary, so customization and ongoing communication are crucial for effectively implementing the SCARF model in different team settings.


  1. Improved motivation and engagement
  2. Increased productivity and performance
  3. Better retention and satisfaction


  1. Conduct Individual Development Conversations
  2. Implement Recognition and Reward Systems
  3. Foster Team Building and Collaboration


  1. Individual differences in importance of domains
  2. Cultural variations and nuances
  3. Limited scope to social threats and rewards

Watch it in action

Watch a short snippet of one of our coaches introducing the framework.

What other managers are saying

"Being more conscious of the SCARF model and where is lacking for the DR helps me to identify what I need to provide more."
"What I need from SCARF doesnt mean my DRs need the same thing. I will continue to be transparent with my DRs and show my true intention to groom them."
"Everyone responds to a particular SCARF element differently, keeping an eye out for what your DR thinks is most important can be used to appeal to them and model a more impactful 1:1."

Apply the SCARF Model today

By actively considering the SCARF Model, managers can gain insights into the social factors that influence motivation and take proactive steps to create a work environment that enhances motivation, engagement, and overall team performance.

Remember, these ideas are just starting points, and managers should adapt them based on their team's specific needs and dynamics.

Download our toolkit to gain access to all the resources you need to determine your team’s motivation needs

  • Printable toolkit with ideas and suggestions crafted specifically for managers
  • A self reflection exercise to diagnose what you and your team’s needs are
  • A template to plan how to improve overall team motivation

More Resources

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Delegate for growth with the Eisenhower Matrix
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Successful management of stakeholders helps you to achieve ambitious goals, and builds trust around you