It All Starts With Relatedness


It Starts With Relatedness

People need to be part of a group, they need to belong and the brain obsesses about the risk of not ‘fitting in’.

That’s why your level of relatedness in anything you do will determine how your other social needs manifest.

If you, as a leader are high in this social need, you’ll be great at quickly creating a deep sense of trust and role clarity in your team. This builds a winning culture and assists team members to feel supported enough to go beyond their comfort zone.

Leadership styles high in this social need:

  • Analyzer
  • Planner
  • Change Agent
  • Innovator

The Origins of Relatedness:

From our earliest ancestors humans have evolved to be part of groups, not only to satisfy needs for interaction and companionship but, most importantly, in order to ensure physical survival.

The ones who survived were those who could work together to hunt and gather, warn each other about dangers and maintain knowledge by learning from each other. The infants that instinctively stayed in the middle of the group were safer than those that went wandering.

It’s not surprising that neuroscientists have discovered our brains are hard-wired to keep us within social groups and is wired to raise the alarm at the mere possibility of social exclusion.

Recent studies by Professor Mathew Lieberman at UCLA have discovered that experience of social exclusion actually activates the same regions within the brain that are activated when a person experiences physical pain, with the alarm signals just as strong.

The brain’s interpretation of social exclusion mirrors its interpretation of physical danger. For leaders looking to build a high performance team their first task is to make sure that each member of the team feels secure in the value they add to the group.

This isn’t about being liked, it’s about being respected and valued for the contribution a person makes to the group. When team members don’t feel safe or are unclear on how they add value, they may resort to playing politics in order to maintain their positing in the group.

These divisive strategies can destroy group cohesion and dramatically reduce the team’s performance.

NeuroPower RELISH Pyramid

What Need Does Relatedness Meet?

Relatedness enables us to feel a sense of safety and belonging within a group (including: family, business team, social group etc).

The primary social function of Relatedness is to ensure safety by maintaining an individual’s position within a group.


The need for relatedness promotes the learning of, and compliance with, specific roles and understood social rules. It recruits the brain’s ability to acquire and automate behaviour and patterns of thinking (ie. Culture, traditions, customs etc ) so that the individual will be accepted within the group without resistance.

The Key Benefit Of Relatedness:

Team members become more loyal and committed to the team as it’s what gives them a sense of purpose.


When relatedness is JUST RIGHT you end up with committed and loyal team environment which creates a winning culture where people love to come to work and go beyond their comfort zone.