So this is the next video in the series about the SCARF Model, which was developed by David Rock. And it’s a really useful way of understanding Primary Threats and Rewards. And today I’d like to talk about  “Autonomy.” Now, Dr. Stephen Mayer, the neuroscientist at the University of Colorado, has said that Autonomy is a fundamental human need.

Effect of lack of Autonomy

Because if we have a lack of Autonomy we’ll have a massive threat response we need to be able to be an agency in our own lives, to be able to choose what we do and when we do it. And if that’s curtailed, we’ll have a massive threat response. And of course at the moment there is a massive threat response because we don’t have autonomy about when we can go out about being able to just choose to do the normal things that we used to do without even thinking about it because someone else is making major decisions about our lives at the moment.

How to have more Autonomy with yourself?

So what can you do to be able to help yourself have more autonomy, so that you can dampen this threat response and regain some creativity, regain some broader open-mindedness and way of being able to make better neutral connections. Because with a reward response you get a bit of dopamine. You get a bit of serotonin. You have more motivation and curiosity about what can be done rather than what can’t be done.

What should you do to have more Autonomy?

So you need to think what is it that you do when you get up when you exercise. When you start work, when you finish work and all the little routines that you can build during the day. And you can make choices about that for yourself, but also you need to think about your people because as a leader and manager your behaviour is going to have a huge impact on your people.

Four Key Areas to have more Autonomy

And there’s four key areas that I’d like to share with you where you can help them to have more autonomy. For example in the tasks that they’re doing how can you discuss with them the tasks that they need to do and help them make some choices around those tasks, and also the techniques that they’re going to use in order to do and organize their work and how they do things.

And next comes also the timing, what can you discuss with them regarding deadlines and how to be able to help them choose deadlines so they’re in a place where they’ve got some Autonomy.

And finally, with teams you can build small teams of people. Help them to maybe give them a problem to solve and they can get together and make some decisions come up with some solutions for themselves.

And above all I’d like you to remember that when it comes to Autonomy, Stay curious!

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions about any of the above so drop me a line at

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Remember . . . Stay Curious!


With best regards,

David Klaasen 

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©David Klaasen – 2014