Principles for People Development

For years, I've devoted myself to developing others. In later years I focused on developing leaders who will, in turn, develop others. I used to believe that developing people came easy for me because of my motivational gifts. After years of telling others that the secret was, "Stay enthusiastic," or "Encourage others," I discovered that it wasn't my outward behavior that made the difference.

I found that my behavior was influenced by some inward beliefs I've held for as long as I can remember, without ever appreciating them. Some people have an easier time at embracing these inward beliefs than others. But I've observed over time, and know that those who become the best at developing people are different in three areas:

+ They make the right assumptions about people.
+ They ask the right questions about people.
+ They give the right assistance to people.

An assumption is an opinion that something is true. Our assumptions about people largely determine how we treat them, don't they? The reason why this is so is because what I assume about people is what I look for. What I look for is what I find. What I find influences my response. Therefore, negative assumptions about others will stimulate negative responses from me, their leader. A positive assumption about others stimulates positive leadership.

So I assume that everyone wants to feel worthwhile. That assumption leads me to treat them as persons of great worth.

I assume everyone needs and responds to encouragement. That assumption leads me to be an encourager.

I assume people buy into their leader before they buy into their leader's ideas. That assumption leads me to live a life worthy of their respect.

I assume many people have difficulty achieving success. This assumption leads me to invest in them, helping them experience quick, easy wins. This builds their confidence so that I can help them become the man or woman they've only dreamed of becoming.

I assume most people are naturally motivated. This leads me to work to create an environment in which people are freed from discouraging influences.

I assume people like to talk about themselves. This leads me to ask questions that help me really know them and what makes them tick, thus giving us a bond that transcends the task at hand.

Assumptions can be negative, or positive. The route I choose makes all the difference. Other choices I make are equally important. After all, success in building relationships of integrity depends on a high:

+ Value of people. I can choose my attitude.
+ Commitment to people. I can choose how to spend my time.
+ Integrity with people. I can choose the course of my character.
+ Standard for people. I can choose a lofty vision.
+ Influence over people. I can choose to lead.

While there are a few people in this world who just don't seem to get along with anyone, in most every other relationship, I can choose whether it will be successful or not. The only question left unanswered is, "What will I choose?"

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter 'The Pastor's Coach' available at