Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 February 2014





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Shaping employee behaviour

Given the inherent culture and habits of Sri Lankan leaders across different fields, it is fair to say that most Sri Lankan leaders are at the two extreme ends, either too nice or too bossy. Both have their specific pros and cons. You would agree that there are more cons than pros. It doesn't work in today's environment.

Varying environment and the mindset of people demand that you keep moving to improve organisational performance while helping employees. This is an art that needs to be developed in leaders across all levels.

Art, however,cannot be acting oriented. Acting is easy but being authentic for long term credibility and respect as a leader is difficult. If you want to be an effective leader you have no choice but to do it.


Appreciation does not mean that one should accept everything and everybody and be inauthentic about it. Inauthentic appreciation is picked up quickly by employees and damages relationships instead of building them. Authentic appreciation, on the other hand, motivates people to go beyond their own limits. It's about taking a genuine interest in people and the business for well balanced accountability.

Focus on what works

It is easy for us to find fault with each other and see what is missing or wrong. Unfortunately, focusing on what does not work only leads to repeated failure. Look around, we have some leaders in every field who get fun out of finding fault. This has to change. My experience has convinced me that catching somebody making mistakes leads them to make more mistakes, whereas catching them doing something right encourages them to be right more often. Of course you do both authentically with the right intention.

Appreciating people boosts their morale and makes them feel good that somebody is paying attention to them and hence they continue to do what brought them appreciation in the first place.

Appreciate others to the extent that you appreciate yourself. Unfortunately, most often, we grow up discovering our limits by being told what not to do and what doesn't work, more than being encouraged to explore what is possible.

We have to 'unlearn' our patterns of identifying what does not work and intentionally concentrate on appreciating what works however small that may be.

I can only appreciate others to the extent that I appreciate myself. So appreciation is also about self acceptance. We rarely appreciate who we are and what we receive because of our conditioned expectations. It is possible for us to come from an attitude of 'never enough' and such attitude is quite transparent to others even though we might be blind to it ourselves.


Most people are quite comfortable with who they are and what they got and never explore beyond their own comfort zones. In such cases, they may never discover their real capacity and depend on others to tell what their boundaries are and do not participate in anything that makes them uncomfortable. We can operate as catalysts with each other to identify our self-imposed limits and examine the appropriateness of those limits in the current context. Curiosity, collaboration, empathy and appreciation provide the impetus for people to engage in an activity that is personally challenging and, hopefully, discover their own untapped potential.

Such exploration can only be done in supportive environments and appreciative relationships. While nobody can change anybody else, an empathetic, appreciative person who is aware of his circumstances will definitely make him think again about his mindset and he would be willing to stretch a little beyond his own comfort zone to explore what is out there. You know the outcome that can be achieved, so go for it.

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