Britain Needs a Warm SCARF Now


What Britain needs now is a warm SCARF. The winds of change are blowing hard through our country and political parties. New leaders are in place. Stormy waters may lie ahead.

 What Britain needs now is a warm SCARFWe need all our leaders, (political, business, spiritual, etc,) to provide us with a SCARF of  Status – Certainty – Autonomy – Relatedness – Fairness.

SCARF is a model developed at the Neuroleadership Institute, based on recent neuroscience results. It represents the interpersonal primary rewards or threats that are important to the brain. By delivering SCARF, you can influence and satisfy people by providing what the brain craves. This aids mental well-being and provides a positive mindset to face the future. I believe the country needs these now.


  • Status is a major driver of social behaviours at work or home and is probably the strongest of the SCARF factors. People will go to great lengths to protect or increase their status. Exclusion and rejection is physiologically painful. A feeling of being less than other people activates the same brain regions as physical pain.

Everyone has a role to play in keeping Britain great after leaving the EU. Now is a time to reduce the divides between North and South, rich and poor, genders, religions and nationalities. Our future lies in speaking as one nation. Let us respect each other and bring greater equality to our shores. Taking away our status by being patronised, threatened or lied to will not help.


  • The brain craves certainty, because uncertainty feels like a threat to life for the brain. It is the primary reward or threat to the brain. Prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function and the foundation of intelligence. People expect forward thinking leadership.

The people of Britain need a clear and inspiring vision for the future. Let’s put scare-mongering, in-fighting and doom merchants behind us and look for solutions for a positive future.


  • Autonomy, the feeling of control, is another primary reward or threat for the brain. It is empowering people to make decisions about how they work or control their lives. This can markedly improve their self esteem and performance. A sense of not being in control is highly threatening.

Having had the referendum, there is a growing expectation for people to have more say in their future. De-centralising decision making frees up leaders’ time to focus on taking Britain forward. In leaving the bureaucracy of the EU, let’s also abandon the ‘nanny-state’ and allow people to make informed decisions. Do we really need to know not to eat tulips or that a bag of peanuts may contain nuts? This ties in with Status in trusting people to think for themselves.


  • Social connections are a primary need, as important as food and water at times. Safe connections with others are vital for health, and for healthy collaboration. The brain thrives in an environment of quality social connections, of safe relatedness.

 We need to heal the rifts that have divided our country, fuelled by divisive campaigning that set one against another. I strongly believe that it is time to come back to and re-state the values of this country.

  • democracy.
  • the rule of law.
  • individual liberty.
  • mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

How many people in the UK even know what our values are? Let’s openly debate what they mean for us all. How much better all our lives will be if we work towards living these values. With the void in integrity and trust in our political and commercial systems, this conversation is more important than ever. Future leaders would do well to heed them and role model them on a daily basis.

We may be leaving the EU, but we are still part of Europe. Past political decisions have helped create the world we now live in. We all need to work hard to show compassion, rebuild relationships and forge new global ones. Let’s put old differences aside for a United Kingdom that can take on the world.


  • People experiencing a sense of unfairness may get as upset as being told they are not going to eat for a day. In order to increase engagement in this country, leaders need to recognise that a sense of fairness can be a primary reward. Unfairness can be a primary threat.

Key work needs to be done to build a fairer society. Otherwise civil unrest will only escalate. History tells us that. We need to recognise that we all have a role in building that.

I call on all our leaders to recognise they need to work hard to:

  • Create a sense of safety and reduce a threat on status.
  • Provide clear expectations and talk a lot about the future to increase certainty.
  • Reduce bureaucracy and let others make decisions to increase autonomy.
  • Have a strong presence, be authentic and transparent in all that they do to create trust and relatedness.
  • Have good integrity and keep their promises, taking care to be perceived as fair.

This is no easy task. It is mission difficult, not mission impossible. We need strong leadership now to unite the nation to achieve this.

Together we can maintain Britain’s greatness in the world and make a society that offers a warm SCARF to whoever enters our domain.



Also published on Medium.

About Rosie

I am a trainer and coach, who has specialised in leadership development for over twenty years. Working with people at all levels of an organisation, I help them realise their true leadership potential. If you would like to talk more about the subject of this article or other leadership matters, then please contact me here

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