Professional and Alumni

Leadership Academy

Ethics: 101

Chapter Character Development

By Dorothy I. Mitstifer - © 2005 by Kappa Omicron Nu. All rights reserved. Permission granted to KON chapters and members to use with appropriate credit.


Required Materials: 

  • 3x3 sticky notes (six per table)
  • Handout with two headings: 
    What I want to see more of !  and
    What I want to see less of !

  • Flip Chart with sentence stem: I Want to See More of . . .

  • Flip Chart with sentence stem: I Want to See Less of . . . 

  • Colored sticky dots for voting

  • Action Planning Form

Activity: More and Less

Introduction: Stephen Covey says, "Start with the end in mind." That's what we are going to do today. When a group wants to launch an ethics or character development program, the Josephson Institute of Ethics uses a simple exercise: "Look at your organization today and list behaviors and attitudes you`d like to see more of and less of." 

Distribute Handout. Ask each participant to write at least 3 responses to each of the following:

What I Want to See More Of !

What I Want to See Less Of !

Share responses at the table and agree on 3 for each topic; write on sticky notes and post on the Flip Chart. 

Assign one person from each table to work with other designated persons to remove duplicates and organize the list for each topic.

Voting: Give each person four colored sticky dots;  place dots on Flip Chart to vote for two priorities on each topic.

Summarize voting record by marking #1 and #2 priorities for each topic.

Direction: Now that the desired outcomes are identified, it`s not that difficult to devise a strategic plan to achieve them. Each table should select one of the desired outcomes and use the Action Planning Form to develop a plan to achieve the prioritized behaviors.


Action Steps (What, How) Who When

How will achievement of the plan be evaluated?

Share highlights of plans with the whole group. Choose one or two to implement. Assign task force to follow-through.


The same approach would work in efforts at self-improvement. But instead of asking yourself what you want to see more of and less of in your own behavior, ask the people at home and at school to tell you what they want.

Interestingly, whether we`re talking about an organization, a company, a school, or an individual, the lists are likely to be similar: more respect and kindness, less criticism and complaining, more scrupulous honesty, less evasion and manipulation, more accountability, less excuse-making.

Here`s another one: If your family and coworkers were told they could choose only five words to describe you, what would you like them to say? What do you think they would say? And to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, could you handle the truth?

It takes character to engage in open-minded self-reflection and to acknowledge and address our flaws, but it takes even stronger character to commit to getting better and staying the course. It`s like the old proverb: "If you want to know how to live your life, think about what you want people to say about you after you die, and live backwards."

Adapted from: CharacterCounts ! Commentary (8/12-18/05) by Michael Josephson, Josephson Institute of Ethics.

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