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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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When the new person is perceived as different, the information travels along neural pathways that are associated with uncomfortable feelings different from the neural pathways triggered by people who are perceived as similar to oneself. Leaders who understand this phenomenon will find many ways to apply it in business. For example, teams of diverse people cannot be thrown together. They must be deliberately put together in a way that minimizes the potential for threat responses. Trust cannot be assumed or mandated, nor can empathy or even goodwill be compelled. This requires time and repeated social interaction.

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But so may a handshake and a shared glance over something funny. Conversely, the human threat response is aroused when people feel cut off from social interaction. Loneliness and isolation are profoundly stressful. John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick showed in that loneliness is itself a threat response to lack of social contact, activating the same neurochemicals that flood the system when one is subjected to physical pain.

Leaders who strive for inclusion and minimize situations in which people feel rejected create an environment that supports maximum performance. This of course raises a challenge for organizations: How can they foster relatedness among people who are competing with one another or who may be laid off? The perception that an event has been unfair generates a strong response in the limbic system, stirring hostility and undermining trust. As with status, people perceive fairness in relative terms, feeling more satisfied with a fair exchange that offers a minimal reward than an unfair exchange in which the reward is substantial.

Another study found that the experience of fairness produces reward responses in the brain similar to those that occur from eating chocolate. The cognitive need for fairness is so strong that some people are willing to fight and die for causes they believe are just — or commit themselves wholeheartedly to an organization they recognize as fair.

In organizations, the perception of unfairness creates an environment in which trust and collaboration cannot flourish. Leaders who play favorites or who appear to reserve privileges for people who are like them arouse a threat response in employees who are outside their circle.

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Like certainty, fairness is served by transparency. Leaders who share information in a timely manner can keep people engaged and motivated, even during staff reductions. Morale remains relatively high when people perceive that cutbacks are being handled fairly — that no one group is treated with preference and that there is a rationale for every cut. If you are a leader, every action you take and every decision you make either supports or undermines the perceived levels of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness in your enterprise.

In fact, this is why leading is so difficult. Your every word and glance is freighted with social meaning. The SCARF model provides a means of bringing conscious awareness to all these potentially fraught interactions. Just as the animal brain is wired to respond to a predator before it can focus attention on the hunt for food, so is the social brain wired to respond to dangers that threaten its core concerns before it can perform other functions.

Threat always trumps reward because the threat response is strong, immediate, and hard to ignore. Once aroused, it is hard to displace, which is why an unpleasant encounter in traffic on the morning drive to work can distract attention and impair performance all day. Humans cannot think creatively, work well with others, or make informed decisions when their threat responses are on high alert.

Skilled leaders understand this and act accordingly. A business reorganization provides a good example. A leader attuned to SCARF principles therefore makes reducing the threat of uncertainty the first order of business. For example, a leader might kick off the process by sharing as much information as possible about the reasons for the reorganization, painting a picture of the future company and explaining what the specific implications will be for the people who work there. Much will be unknown, but being clear about what is known and willing to acknowledge what is not goes a long way toward ameliorating uncertainty threats.

Reorganizations also stir up threats to autonomy, because people feel they lack control over their future.

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An astute leader will address these threats by giving people latitude to make as many of their own decisions as possible — for example, when the budget must be cut, involving the people closest to the work in deciding what must go. Having a few key leaders come up with a plan and then expecting people to buy into it is a recipe for failure, because it does not take the threat response into account.

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People rarely support initiatives they had no part in designing; doing so would undermine both autonomy and status. Proactively addressing these concerns by adopting an inclusive planning process can prevent the kind of unconscious sabotage that results when people feel they have played no part in a change that affects them every day. Leaders often underestimate the importance of addressing threats to fairness. This is especially true when it comes to compensation. Although most people are not motivated primarily by money, they are profoundly de-motivated when they believe they are being unfairly paid or that others are overpaid by comparison.

Leaders who recognize fairness as a core concern understand that disproportionately increasing compensation at the top makes it impossible to fully engage people at the middle or lower end of the pay scale. For years, economists have argued that people will change their behavior if they have sufficient incentives.

But these economists have defined incentives almost exclusively in economic terms. We now have reason to believe that economic incentives are effective only when people perceive them as supporting their social needs. Status can also be enhanced by giving an employee greater scope to plan his or her schedule or the chance to develop meaningful relationships with those at different levels in the organization.

The SCARF model thus provides leaders with more nuanced and cost-effective ways to expand the definition of reward. In doing so, SCARF principles also provide a more granular understanding of the state of engagement, in which employees give their best performance. Engagement can be induced when people working toward objectives feel rewarded by their efforts, with a manageable level of threat: in short, when the brain is generating rewards in several SCARF-related dimensions.

Leaders themselves are not immune to the SCARF dynamic; like everyone else, they react when they feel their status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fair treatment are threatened.


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However, their reactions have more impact, because they are picked up and amplified by others throughout the company. If you are an executive leader, the more practiced you are at reading yourself, the more effective you will be. For example, if you understand that micromanaging threatens status and autonomy, you will resist your own impulse to gain certainty by dictating every detail.

When a leader is self-aware, it gives others a feeling of safety even in uncertain environments. It makes it easier for employees to focus on their work, which leads to improved performance. The same principle is evident in other groups of mammals, where a skilled pack leader keeps members at peace so they can perform their functions.

A self-aware leader modulates his or her behavior to alleviate organizational stress and creates an environment in which motivation and creativity flourish. One great advantage of neuroscience is that it provides hard data to vouch for the efficacy and value of so-called soft skills. It also shows the danger of being a hard-charging leader whose best efforts to move people along also set up a threat response that puts others on guard.

Similarly, many leaders try to repress their emotions in order to enhance their leadership presence, but this only confuses people and undermines morale. Experiments by Kevin Ochsner and James Gross show that when someone tries not to let other people see what he or she is feeling, the other party tends to experience a threat response. This approach is likely to minimize status threats, increase certainty, and create a sense of relatedness and fairness. The neural networks involved in information holding, planning, and cognitive problem solving reside in the lateral, or outer, portions of the brain, whereas the middle regions support self-awareness, social skills, and empathy.

These regions are inversely correlated. Perhaps the greatest challenge facing leaders of business or government is to create the kind of atmosphere that promotes status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. When historians look back, their judgment of this period in time may rise or fall on how organizations, and society as a whole, operated.

Did they treat people fairly, draw people together to solve problems, promote entrepreneurship and autonomy, foster certainty wherever possible, and find ways to raise the perceived status of everyone? If so, the brains of the future will salute them. Reviews and mentions of publications, products, or services do not constitute endorsement or recommendation for purchase. All rights reserved. Please see www.


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    Illustration by Leigh Wells. To download, select your device:. He is also the CEO of Results Coaching Systems, which helps global organizations grow their leadership teams, using brain research as a base for self-awareness and social awareness. The business insights you need to succeed. Most Popular 1. How to build disruptive strategic flywheels 2. Millennials are risk-aware, not risk-averse 4. Our Planet: Our Business , and our conversations 5. Video GMO. PwC Insights. Successfully augmenting human expertise with artificial intelligence and other smart technologies starts with the person at the top.

    Recommended Stories. Millennials are risk-aware, not risk-averse. How productivity tracking can empower employees. So once you have an acceptance letter, ask the company for all of the specifics on their benefits package too, so you can gauge what the impact will be on your overall financial picture. One key to this strategy is to find a side gig that will fit your schedule and help maximize your income, says Pimpo.

    In other words, don't choose a part-time job that sucks up all of your free time, with little to show for it in income. You should actually enjoy what you're doing, as well as further your skills. Transitioning to a two-income household could help significantly, but only if the new income isn't dedicated to simply offsetting child care — so do the math to see where you net out. You could also look for jobs that are flexible with your schedule. Be a writer? Teach music? Your home probably provides many opportunities to save.

    Before you pack — and book costly movers — figure out what the trade-offs might be for downsizing to a less expensive house. Also, keep in mind that downsizing will be easier if you rent versus own, says Pimpo, adding that you could figure out the net benefits of leasing elsewhere and renting out your home to cover the mortgage.

    Finding someone to split your household costs could be a short-term sacrifice that helps free up a decent chunk of your budget. However, if you own your home, check local laws to see if it's even legal for you to rent out rooms, including "squatter" laws that may make it hard for you to evict a tenant who isn't working out.

    Relocating is, truly, a big move, because of the uncertainty: How much will it cost to move? Will I be able to sell my home? Are there job opportunities? On top of that, consider doing a careful cost-of-living comparison to see how your two cities compare when it comes to housing expenses, utilities, taxes — and salaries.

    You might find yourself looking towards a brighter future.


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    What may be even tougher than implementing any of these changes is coming to the realization that they could be beneficial—perhaps even necessary. What can help, however, is basing your decision less on how you feel and more on what the numbers tell you. But literally writing numbers down can help you face reality, because you can't ignore what's staring back at you in black and white, he adds.

    For example, jot down how much it costs you to live your current lifestyle, "then ask yourself, 'Can I actually afford this? Facing the cold, hard truth was what spurred Carter to make his move — even when it seemed like the wrong thing to do. He was relocating to a place where he had no true desire to live, plus he and his wife lived apart initially while he made the transition. But his new job paid more than he'd ever made before, and it helped his career skyrocket.

    And Charleston is our new favorite city — we've got a great lifestyle, with lower costs. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'.

    It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Marisa Torrieri , LearnVest. Facebook Icon The letter F. Link icon An image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url.