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Neuro Leadership: Manage Your Brain, Manager Your Self

Our curator, Yaprak Metin, hosted Tülin Kahvecioğlu to talk about “Neuro Leadership” as part of our young professional learning series. The sooner a young manager knows about neuro leadership, the better! 

On April 17th, had a feast for our brain and our soul. Tülin Kahvecioğlu shared her own story and her career choices to get our imagination flowing. Starting her career at the age of 18, she wore many hats that includes being a flight attendant to now coaching leaders.  Tülin is the Co-Founder of BahçeBiz Gelişim Akademisi.

Next, we dived into the world of Neuro leadership and the magic world of our brain.

What is our motivation?

 If you want to turn your success into something sustainable and continuous,

 If you believe that succeeding as a group is more important than your individual success,

 If you can avoid your ego to give credit to those who come up with the idea;

Then you are aware that failures are always the best lessons and you are in your leadership journey.

Tulin added: "It all comes down to where you want to position yourself and have confidence for this ideal. All the guidance you need and what you want to learn from others should stem within."

Master your brain, master your today and future

 “Visualization works because brain doesn’t exactly differentiate between reality and imagination. When you start visualizing the future, your brain starts laying the future steps for your goals.

Knowing what you want from life and where you see yourself in the future has great importance. You can't be a leader with low self-awareness. Questioning yourself is one crucial activity that should never end.”  Were Tülin’s introductory remarks. 

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Did you SCARF today?

She then introduced us to the SCARF model of behavior, first published in 2008 by David Rock.

The SCARF model is based on two assumptions: 1) Our brain switches in between two states: minimize threats and maximize rewards. 2) The brain takes a threat and reward approach to social needs in the same way it reacts to primary needs, such as food and water.

What does that mean for a leader? You can use the SCARF model to plan interactions with others and use the technique to motivate your team.


In a nutshell, if a person feels that they are being threatened, their primitive emotional brain – particularly the amygdala – will work quickly to protect them, and this reduces their ability for rational thought, to make decisions, to solve problems, and to collaborate. As leaders, we would like to inspire the opposite!  

A positive emotion or reward creates a stimulus making people act, encouraging them to perform to realize their potential.

SCARF stands for:

Status – the relative importance to others.

Certainty – the ability to predict future.

Autonomy – the sense of control over events.

Relatedness – the sense of safety with others.

Fairness – the perception of fair exchanges.

If you find yourself at acts listed below, you are triggering an avoidance response from your team and move further away from coaching them to realize their own potential:

  • Micro management (challenges autonomy)
  • Giving constant feedback and not allowing your team member to give feedback about themselves (challenges status)
  • Do not provide clear goals and objective (challenges certainty)

Fair exchanges activate rewards circuitry. Unfair exchange activates danger circuit. How amazing is that! This value is not only an element of integrity, it also motivates us in the brain.

One fascinating fact about the relatedness pillar: The brain perceives the other, if we are not connected, as a threat. Connections make this perception go away. Does your team know each other or know you?

We cannot do justice to this theory in a small recap. You can find out more about David Rock and his work here.  

In the question and answer session, Tulin recommended two books: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” by David Rock.

We now have a great tool box for self-awareness, understanding our brain and the reaction of others, thank you Tülin Kahvecioğlu!

Yaprak Metin, our curator and brain trust member who introduced this topic amazing speaker and topic to us, ended the event with a call to all young professionals: ”You can’t find out how good you are until you spread your wings. Spread them wide open today!”

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May inspiration and sisterhood be always with you…  

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