If you are in any leadership position, you understand that there are actions that you want the people that you lead to take in order for the purpose you have set up to be accomplished.

The easiest way to lead is to get a piece of paper and create a ‘to do’ list. This actually works well for people doing project management but if you are to help grow character in different people, a list of qualities on a board will not work.

I worked at a Advent Group Ministries back in 2002, and understanding how to build character in young men was my purpose as the residential counselor. If you’ve ever worked with socially troubled gang members and some potential drug abusers to try and guide them into a different way of being, you will understand how difficult a task it is to develop character in another person.

By the time I left, I learned steps for how to develop character in others and I’ll share that with you in this post.

1) What I learned in my time there was that with anyone you want to influence you first have to care about them…on a true level. The thing with people is that they can tell when you are being fake or you are just around or  saying things because you have to. With the people that are around you, you must take the time out to get to know them because that is the only opening for them to even think that what you say means anything.

2) Don’t fall into this trap! Because you have built rapport with the person you want to build character in, you begin to bring out that list and tell them to do those things! Wrong idea. They will automatically realize that that was the reason for you speaking with them. Your next move really is to recognize the qualities that they have already and share what you believe about them with them! Being able to see someone’s identity in them will boost their confidence and sparks new ways of thinking in their minds. Again, I can’t say this enough, if you are fake or have a reason other than just noticing it they will spot you…BE AUTHENTIC!

3) So do we bring out the list now? NO! After you begin to constantly share with the person that identity that you see in them, try your best to help them get a perspective of an oasis. The idea is to have them understand that the world is their oasis and they can use that once hidden identity to begin to paint a new picture for themselves. If you can get people to use the hidden character they already have and feel good doing it, they will approach you and begin to ask for advice and that’s when you break out the list, but only to yourself and always aligned with what circumstance the person is going through at that time.

I know that what I have written seems so simple but I must attach a character warning! Be willing to accept that all your efforts may not show up right away. Like all character mentors know, “Character building is ALWAYS mutual.”. Most of what I realized in working with these young men was that as I was attempting to impart character in them the character I was learning  and developing in myself was patience amongst others. I suspect you will have to go through the same.

Good luck in developing others and yourself!


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