One of the major foci of universities in relation to the educational missions is to promote the growth and development of students as leaders. This article discusses the role of academic advising as a strategic partner with classroom and extra- curricular leadership development programs. To that end, this article reviews the roles of academic advising in higher education and discusses the viability of expanding these roles to include the role of advisor as leadership educator. In so doing, I provide a review of the literature related to student leadership development, discuss the similarity in advising outcomes and leadership development outcomes, and examine how the roles of academic advisors in higher education relate to leadership development as well as how advisors can become intentional leadership educators.
Across the United States, universities and colleges have taken up the agenda of promoting the development of future leaders (Komives et al., 2011). Some are doing so through the development of curricular programs in leadership. Others focus on co-curricular efforts. Some combine these efforts intentionally, others haphazardly. Regardless, the importance of leadership development on campuses has reached what is likely an all-time high and this trend does not appear to be ending soon. Leadership is important. In our current society, which has been identified by some as experiencing a leadership crisis (Greenleaf, 1996; Russell, 2000), it is likely the key to our future. Thus it makes sense that universities increasingly strive to promote its development. However, if they wish to do so, and do so successfully, they will need to tap into all of the resources of the university, especially those with potential for making significant contributions to this effort (Guthrie & Thompson, 2010; Komives et al., 2011). The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential contribution of one of the frequently overlooked strategic partners in the leadership development equation. This paper
examines the connection between student leadership development and academic advising.
Academic advising is a conceptual chameleon. It changes colors to match its environment. Thus, while there are many aspects of academic advising that remain constant across a variety of academic contexts, the significant differences that emerge make it difficult to develop a firm definition of advising.
Consequently, numerous definitions of advising have been developed that prove relevant for some advising contexts, but not for others (NACADA, 2003).
Therefore, none of these have received universal acceptance. In response to this challenge, the National Academic Advising Association (2006) commissioned a task force to develop a universally acceptable definition. The result was a statement regarding academic advising which suggests:
Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education. Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community.
Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institution. Regardless of the diversity of our institutions, our students, our advisors, and our organizational structures, academic advising has three components: curriculum (what advising deals with), pedagogy (how advising does what it does), and student learning outcomes (the result of academic advising). (p. 7)
While this statement and the document in which it is embedded do not formally define advising, because the diverse functional nature of advising makes it difficult to universally define, there is general agreement that like teaching, academic advising possesses a pedagogy, curriculum, and specific desired outcomes.
Within each of the components of advising there exist multiple perspectives. Regarding pedagogy, advising can be viewed as largely prescriptive or entirely developmental or a combination of both (Crookston, 1972). In some cases it has been categorized based on how developmental it is (Shane, 1981). The curriculum and desired outcomes are debated as well, should advising deal with just academic development and related outcomes, such as critical thinking, or should
it focus more broadly on career and personal development (Dickson & McMahon, 1991; Hemwell & Trachte, 1999; Lowenstein, 1999). Within the broad spectrum of possibilities, and with particular emphasis on the nature of this article, the following roles of advisors seem appropriate and valid for consideration:
The advisor as developmental professional.
The advisor as teacher.
The advisor as career counselor.
The advisor as coach.
The advisor as guidance counselor.
The advisor as advocate.
The advisor as mentor.
Obviously not all advisors will fulfill all of these roles; nonetheless, it is likely that most will fill some if not a majority of these. Furthermore, each of these roles, as will be discussed later, provides a perspective on how academic advising can contribute to the encouragement, education, and development of students as leaders. Consequently, these roles will be examined briefly in more depth.
The Advisor as Developmental Professional
One of the most discussed and debated roles of academic advisors is that of developmental professional (Chickering, 1994; Creamer, 2000; Hagen & Jordan, 2008; Purdee, 1994; Ramos, 1994; Winston Jr., 1994). According to this perspective, the role of an advisor is to facilitate the broader holistic growth of students in up to nine-dimensions of development: intellectual, life planning, social, physical, emotional, sexual, cultural, spiritual, and political (Dickson & McMahon, 1991). This is accomplished through holistic counseling practices.
The Advisor as Teacher
Based on the extent of concerns levied against the developmental perspective regarding the role of advising, a number of scholars and practitioners argued for the need to weave the advising function more closely with the instructional role of the university (Hagen & Jordan, 2008; Hemwell & Trachte, 1999; Laff, 1994).
Consequently, they re-conceptualized the advising role as that of teacher (Hemwell & Trachte, 1999, 2005; Lowenstein, 1999, 2005). This role involves instructing students regarding how gain a maximum benefit from their academic programs and curricula. This includes teaching students how to think critically, understand the mission of the university, realize the cohesive logic of their education and of the curriculum, transfer knowledge across disciplines, integrate knowledge and practice, engage in integrative decision-making, and recognize the
relationship between personal and institutional goals (Hemwell & Trachte, 2005; Lowenstein, 2005).
The Advisor as Career Counselor
A less controversial role for advisors, but one that definitely varies in relation to the advising position and context is that of career counselor. This role involves providing differing levels of support in relation to increasing one’s self-awareness in relation to career interests, personality, work values, etc, expanding one’s knowledge of the career marketing, engaging in career and major decision- making, and supporting career finding efforts (Gordon, 2006; Gore Jr. & Metz, 2008; McClellan & Moser, 2010; McCollum, 1998).
The Advisor as Coach
A role that is more related to the process than the content of the advising session is that of coach. Coaching as a role suggests that advisors act more as facilitators of student decision making than advice givers or counselors. Coaching uses specific facilitative techniques and procedures focused on developing a trusting relationship that allows the advisor to help students think through the decisions they need to make, resolve the challenges they face, and achieve their dreams (McClellan & Moser, 2011). In this role advisors also assist students in the development of critical skills. The practice of appreciative advising is one of the more popular forms of advising as coaching (Bloom, Hutson, & He, 2008).
Advising for self-authorship is also closely related (Magolda & King, Winter 2008; Meszaros, 2007; Pizzolato, 2006).
The Advisor as Guidance Counselor
From the perspective of many students, the role of an academic advisor is similar to that of a guidance counselor in high school. This role involves three primary behaviors – providing essential information, offering guidance in relation to course scheduling and degree completion, and giving referrals. This role is referred to in the literature as that of prescriptive advisor or as a scheduler (Daller, Creamer, & Creamer, 1997). It has also been conceptualized as informational advising (Shane, 1981). In spite of its often being vilified as an impersonal, narrow, and outdated approach to advising, research has validated the desirable and important, even essential, nature of this advising role (Brown & Rivas, 1994).
The Advisor as Advocate
NACADA (2005) developed a statement of core values for academic advisors. This statement suggests advisors are responsible to multiple stakeholders. Given the often contradictory nature of these responsibilities, advisors are often placed in a role of having to advocate for one or another of these groups. One of the more common forms of advocacy that advisors engage in is bringing the voice of the student to bear on organizational decision making.
The Advisor as Mentor
A final role of advisors is that of mentors. Mentoring is similar to coaching in that it focuses on skill development and decision-making. However, it is different from coaching, in that the emphasis is placed on the skills and experience of the advisor as opposed to the student. Mentors are typically experts in a specific field of practice who apprentice followers within their field. They do so by giving advice, providing an example, and granting access to the mentors social network and resources (Friday & Friday, 2002; Viney & McKimm, 2010).
Regardless of the roles that a particular advisor incorporates into his or her work, the strength of advising in universities and colleges is attached to its ability to act as a strategic partner in the educational mission of the institution. As universities craft their missions and develop specific outcomes, advising administrators should follow up by aligning their strategic plans and advising outcomes with those of the broader institution. In so doing, a particular emphasis should be placed on student learning outcomes.
While a wide range of student learning outcomes have been developed by a variety of institutions, once again no general list of widely accepted outcomes is available. Nonetheless, the most comprehensive list of possible outcomes is that provided for within the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) standards of advising (2005). These include:
Personal and educational goals.
Clarification of personal values.
Meaningful interpersonal relationships.
Satisfying and productive lifestyles.
This list provides some obvious connections to the role of advising in leadership development; in fact it names leadership development specifically as an outcome of advising. Unfortunately, while some scholars have begun to examine the role of advisors as leaders and to mine the potential value that leadership theory may contribute to the process of advising (Barbuto, Story, Fritz, & Schinstock, 2009; Lerstrom, 2008; McClellan, 2007), there is little to no evidence of a concerted effort to explore the role of advisors as leadership educators.
Advisors as Leadership Educators
For advisors to become maximally effective as leadership educators, they would likely need to begin by developing a basic understanding of leadership development models in higher education and the process of leadership development. Based upon this foundation, and consistent with the principles of effective program development, assessment, and backward design (Popa, 2009; Robbins & Zarges, 2011), they would then need to articulate a clear set of leadership learning outcomes. Having done so, advisors can then intentionally embed leadership development efforts into their work as advisors consistent with their roles within the institution.
This may be accomplished as advisors engage in the role of leadership development facilitators (Huber, 2002). According to Huber, this role involves first helping students to identify the purpose for leadership by helping them answer the question of why they would want to lead others. Second, advisors can help students understand the process of leadership, again this requires both knowledge of leadership theory and practice. It also requires that advisors help students to reflect on ways in which they can become engaged in leadership, connect with the issues and systems in such a way that they can identify where to begin their efforts to lead, decide how to lead, and engage in leadership practices which they can then reflect on in order to deepen their learning and development. These practices are not in any way foreign to the advising process. Thus, it is more a matter of the focus and framing of the developmental process within advising, than it is changing the processes that are used to advise.
Consequently, it is worth noting that even without such the intentional efforts described here, advising may already be contributing to the development of leadership among colleges students as the nature of the process is conducive to
the promotion and development of many leadership competencies. Furthermore, while the term educator is being used to describe the role of advisors in relation to leadership development, it is important to note that the emphasis for advisors is more on the development work of helping students to become leaders than the education work of teaching students about leadership. Nonetheless, both roles are enveloped in the discussion within this article.
Models of Leadership Development in Higher Education
Within the realm of higher education, a number of models of leadership and leadership development have been espoused and utilized in developing leadership curricular/co-curricular programs. Some of these more frequently cited models include servant leadership, the leadership challenge, transformational leadership, adaptive leadership, and the social change model of leadership development (Harris, Bruce, & Jones, 2011). Just as these models can be used as a framework for creating leadership development programs, they can also be used for guiding the creation of advising programs that promote leadership development.
The modern concept of servant leadership was articulated by Robert K. Greenleaf (2002). Greenleaf’s central argument was that when leaders are motivated out of a preeminent desire to serve, as opposed to a primary desire for power or even success, it fundamentally alters and enhances the nature of leadership. Lad and Luechauer (1998) wrote:
Servant-leaders typically have a passionate zeal for creating a preferred future . . .What differentiates servant-leaders from maniacal dictators is their deep desire to pursue this vision from the basis of humility, empathy, compassion, and commitment to ethical behavior. (p. 64)
This difference in motivation and the means of pursuing one’s vision, causes servant-leaders to incorporate what Spears (1998) refers to as the 10 characteristics of servant leadership into their leadership practice. These ten characteristic include:
Commitment to the growth of people.
Greenleaf (1998, 2002) suggested that students need to be taught to view and be assisted in perceiving the university not as a place apart from the world, but rather as a part of the real world wherein they can begin to exercise caring leadership.
He advocated for a model of encouraging, educating, and mentoring students in actively leading positive, constructive change within all aspects of their lives as a means of promoting their growth and development as the builders of a better society.
The Leadership Challenge
Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) model of leadership has been used extensively in leadership development programs at the graduate and undergraduate level (Harris et al., 2011; Kass & Gandzol, 2011). Their book was also one of the most frequently cited texts in the Journal of Leadership Education from 2002 through 2006 (Edgar & Cox, 2010). Since the 1980s, these scholars have conducted multiple quantitative and qualitative studies in which they have sought to identify and understand peak leadership experiences.
Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) research revealed five core practices of leaders. These practices include (a) challenging the process by engaging in significant, meaningful, and challenging projects, (b) inspiring a shared vision, (c) enabling others to act, (d) modeling the way “through personal example and dedicated execution” (p. 13), and (e) encouraging the heart of those they lead by fostering a passion for “their products, their services, their constituents, their clients and customers, and their work” (p. 14). Kouzes and Posner advocated for developing leaders overtime and experientially through seeking opportunities to engage in leadership using the five practices. Doing so promotes increased self-awareness and leadership capacity.
Transformational leadership is one of the most extensively researched models of leadership (Northouse, 2012). This model of leadership originated in the work of Burns (2003). He compared and contrasted transactional – reciprocity based influence – with transformational leadership – helping people participate in the processes of change, creating collective identity as well as efficacy to bring about stronger feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy and personal transformation.
According to Bass and Riggio (2006), this model of leadership is characterized by four components. The first component is idealized influence, which refers to the leader’s ability to serve as a role model for followers. The second component, inspirational motivation, involves motivating followers through meaningful and challenging inclusion and charismatic discourse. Intellectual stimulation, the third component, refers to a leader’s ability to encourage followers “to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways” (p. 7). The fourth component is individualized consideration. This final aspect involves the willingness of leaders to take each individual’s needs, interests, and growth into consideration by engaging in coaching, mentoring, and other forms of mutual interaction. Various universities and colleges have incorporated this model of leadership into both curricular and extracurricular components of their leadership programs.
Heifetz’(1994) model of adaptive leadership is frequently used in curricular leadership development efforts. He argues that leadership is derived from the informal influence capacity that one possesses and is necessary for addressing adaptive challenges. In contrast, authority which is derived from a person’s position is more relevant to traditional challenges. Adaptive challenges are those which require that leaders go beyond the use of entrenched knowledge, skills, and processes to make progress on significant issues. Thus, according to Heifetz, “Adaptive work consists of the learning required to address conflicts in the values people hold, or to diminish the gap between the values people stand for and the reality they face. Adaptive work requires a change in values, beliefs, or behavior” (p. 22).
Consequently, leaders are forced to raise challenging issues through the surfacing and questioning of values and current practices. Such an approach can be risky for leaders if they do not navigate such leadership initiatives very carefully. Heifetz and others (Heifetz, 1994; Heifetz & Linsky, 2002; Parks, 2005) advocate for an iterative balancing of big picture thinking and systemic awareness with intensive engagement or presencing. In addition, leaders are encouraged to manage relationships with allies and opponents, carefully regulate emotional intensity, shift responsibility for making change to those involved, and hold steady throughout the process.
Heifetz (1994), and those who use his model, approach leadership development largely through what Heifetz calls the case-in-point method. This approach to leadership development uses the classroom as a learning laboratory in which the issues of leading adaptive change are taught through both traditional instructional
methods and experiential reflection on classroom behaviors and past experiences that reflect the concepts discussed (Parks, 2005).
The Social Change Model
The social change model of leadership development was created by a team of leadership scholars to “enhance the student learning and development of leadership competence, and . . .to facilitate positive social change” (Komives, Wagner, & Associates, 2009, p. 48). As in Heifetz’ (1994) model, the kind of change sought after is fundamental and values oriented. Consequently, the model is focused around seven core values, as opposed to competencies, including (a) three individuals values – consciousness of self, congruence, and commitment,,
three group values – collaboration, common purpose, and controversy with civility, and (c) one social/community value – citizenship. These values are all interrelated and represent ongoing realms of leadership development.
According to Komives et al (2009), growth as a leader occurs in three realms as one “acquires knowledge (knowing), integrates that knowledge into beliefs and attitudes (being), and applies knowledge and beliefs in daily life (doing)” (pp. 66- 67). As is evident, this model promotes leadership through civic engagement and intentional reflective activity in relation to the values components.
As advisors contemplate how to engage in intentional leadership development efforts, these models provide guidance regarding the outcomes and objectives of leadership development. Advisors should select a model or a combination of components from various models that suits their philosophy and style of advising. Having done so, they can then consider how to integrate the process of leadership development with that of advising.
The Process of Leadership Development
Komives et al. (2009) suggest, “Leadership is a process that is learned . . .from reflections on experience, from observation, and from applying new concepts” (p. 79). The traditional leadership development process begins as leaders learn about leadership and develop awareness of which they are as a leader and what they would like to become. They then engage in intentional efforts to improve on their leadership and assess progress overtime (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002; Lawson, 2008). This process simply requires a context in which one can learn, experiment with, and reflect upon one’s own efforts to influence others through leadership. Much of this work of leadership development in universities takes place in the classroom and in the arenas of practice provided within the extra- curricular programming of institutions. In fact, the research on college student
leadership development suggests that some of the most significant predictors of student leadership development include interaction “with peers outside the classroom across differences” (Dugan, 2011, p. 72), faculty mentoring, participation in community service, engagement in campus based clubs and organizations, and participation in moderate length formal learning experiences such as classes or a series of workshops as opposed to short-term or longer term experiences.
Additional application based learning likely takes place beyond the realm of the university in work and family settings. However, as mentioned, a unique and important realm for promoting such growth, which has not been adequately explored, can be found in the office of academic advisors who use their uniquely important roles to promote intentional leadership development. One thing that makes advising particularly relevant to leadership development is that it is an ongoing relational process in which advisor and advisees meet regularly to discuss goals, plans, and developmental outcomes (Light, 2001; NACADA, 2003). Consequently, advisors are uniquely suited to assess student leadership development, develop plans for development as leaders, and discuss outcomes.
To integrate leadership development into the advising process, advisors should consider how they will introduce the concept of leadership and help students to assess their current and ideal leadership capacities. Having done so, they can then assist students to identify developmental opportunities for learning about and engaging in leadership that are consistent with student goals. It would be wise to not overlook the day to day leadership opportunities that students experience such as working in study groups, interacting with faculty, solving problems, resolving conflicts with roommates, and other situations. Finally, advisors should continually help students to assess their growth and development as leaders and help them to revise their goals and plans as necessary.
To some extent, the ability to implement leadership development depends on the specific roles the advisor plays within the institution. However, before determining, more specifically, how advisors can apply leadership development models and processes within their roles, they should clearly articulate the outcomes they wish to achieve and how these relate to leadership development. In so doing, it is worth noting that a tremendous amount of commonality already exists between the outcomes of leadership development and those of academic advising.
While diverse models of leadership exist, there are some significant areas of overlap relative to leadership development outcomes. Most models include some or all the following skills or competencies (Brungardt, 2011; Dhar & Mishra, 2001; Goleman et al., 2002; Harris et al., 2011; Lussier & Achua, 2007; Owens, 2011; Yukl, 1998; Zenger & Folkman, 2002):
Ethical and moral reasoning.
Oral and written communication.
Critical thinking and problem solving.
Self and other motivation.
Creativity and innovation.
Willingness to take risks.
Leading groups and teams.
Conflict management and negotiation.
Leading amidst diversity and in multicultural settings.
Interestingly, many of these outcomes are either directly or are at least conceptually related to student learning outcomes already included in models of advising outcomes including the CAS (2005) standards for advising and the desired outcomes of the advising roles discussed previously. See Table 1 for a comparison of leadership outcomes/competencies and student learning outcomes of advising. Please note, however, that this is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of either leadership competencies or advising outcomes. Instead, it is intended to suggest the extent to which overlap exists across both frameworks.
Comparison of leadership outcomes/competencies and student learning outcomes of advising
Advisor Student Learning Outcomes
Spiritual awareness, social
Career selection, career and major decision-making, integrative decision-
Oral and written communication
Critical thinking and problem solving
Intellectual growth, critical thinking,
Strategic planning, visioning, goal setting
Development of academic/career plans, personal and educational goals,
Self and other motivation
Increased independence, enhanced
Creativity and innovation
Willingness to take risks
Leading groups and teams
Conflict management and negotiation
Realistic self-appraisal, clarification of
personal values, self-awareness
Collaboration, appreciating diversity
Relationship management & developing
Meaningful interpersonal relationships
Leading amidst diversity and in
Satisfying and productive lifestyles
While not directly included in the CAS standards or the theoretical model previously discussed, advisors frequently engage in and assist students to deal with conflict (McClellan, 2005; Punyanunt-Carter & Wrench, 2008), promote risk taking as part of motivating students (McClellan, 2006), practice coaching (McClellan & Moser, 2011; Pizzolato, 2008), encourage diversity awareness and multicultural intelligence (Gordon, Habley, & Grites, 2008; Priest & McPhee, 2000), and encouraging creativity and innovation (Bloom et al., 2008).
Clearly there exists a significant overlap between the desired outcomes of both leadership development efforts and academic advising. Consequently, it is likely
that any intentional effort to engage in effective, outcomes oriented advising will unintentionally contribute to leadership development. However, to the extent that advisors intentionally identify desired outcomes for both leadership development and student learning, and pursue these outcomes, they can both more intentionally and more effectively contribute to leadership development.
Applying Leadership Development Theory to Advising Roles
Having identified specific outcomes for advising that promote leadership development, advisors can then alter their role based efforts to better contribute to leadership development. In the following section, some suggestions will be offered regarding what models of leadership development are most relevant in relation to each role. It is worth noting, however, that any of the leadership development models could be used in relation to any of these roles.
Perhaps it is through the role of developmental professional that academic advisors can most contribute to the development of students as leaders.
Leadership is truly a developmental process (Komives et al., 2011). As discussed earlier, advisors contribute to student development through an intentional emphasis on structuring the advising process to focus on developmental issues and stages associated with growth in the following areas – (a) intellectual, (b) life planning, (c) social, (d) physical, (e) emotional, (f) sexual, (g) cultural, (h) spiritual, and (i) political (Dickson & McMahon, 1991). Many leadership scholars and theorists advocate for similarly broad holistic approaches to leadership development (Covey, 1989, 2004; Goleman et al., 2002; Komives et al., 2011; McClellan, 2009). Furthermore, since the connection between effective leadership and developmental maturation is strong, it is likely that any efforts to promote holistic development will increase student leadership potential and ability. Servant leadership is a particularly relevant model of leadership development for advising programs focused on student development.
Advisors wishing to use servant leadership as a model for promoting student leader development may choose to begin by identifying the leadership development outcomes that they wish to achieve in relation to five aspects of holistic development: spiritual, which involves establishing meaning and a sense of purpose; physical, which focuses on personal health and wellness as well as physical skill; mental, which involves developing the cognitive capacity to lead and skills to lead effectively; emotional, which focuses on the development of emotional intelligence; and extra-personal, which encompasses the tangible elements of one’s identity as an individual and a leader, including positions of
leadership (McClellan, 2009). An alternative to this more qualitative approach would be to use formal assessment instruments to measure a student’s servant leadership character, competencies, and skills. Multiple instruments exist for doing so (Barbuto, JR. & Wheeler, 2006; Dennis & Borcarnea, 2005; Liden, 2008; Page & Wong, 2004; Sendjaya, 2003).
Having identified areas for development as servant-leaders, advisors can then identify the principles and practices of servant-leadership that are most relevant to their practice of advising and the students areas for growth (McClellan, 2007; Sipe & Frick, 2009; Spears, 2002). They may then identify when and how to encourage students to apply these same principles and practices to their academic and social efforts.
The focus on the advisor as teacher likewise offers great promise in relation to promoting leadership development. However, the focus of this advising role is more directly associated with the promotion of the cognitive capacity of the student and the student’s ability to engage in integrative thinking and decision- making, as well as praxis in relation to leadership (Lowenstein, 2005). Leadership provides an excellent framework for facilitating the integration of knowledge across disciplines. Advisors can achieve this without developing a significant knowledge of either leadership theory or practice as the concepts of leadership and social influence are widely understood phenomenon about which most students and faculty are capable of discussion regardless of their academic background. Nonetheless, a working knowledge of leadership theory can further contribute to the intentional and coherent leadership development of students.
Whether or not such intentional conversations occur, however, the very processes of promoting the outcomes associated with this advising role will contribute to the development of the many of the related leadership competencies.
Heifetz (1994) model and case in point approach to teaching do offer some valid insights into developing programs associated with advising as teaching. His model and methods suggests that students contemplate all of their interactions and reflect upon their approach to leadership, capacity in practicing leadership , and development as leaders (Parks, 2005). Thus, advisors who wish to engage in intentional leadership development could invite students to reflect upon whether or not the challenges they face are adaptive or technical in nature, thus using their entire collegiate experience as a learning laboratory. They could then challenge them to examine their own values and assumptions, promote big picture thinking and being present, assist them to reflect on how they use power and influence in their efforts as students, and encourage them to think about how to use leadership to address these challenges and overcome them. It is worth noting, however, that
use of Heifetz’s model requires a more in-depth understanding of the theory and language that he uses so as to be able to apply it spontaneously in specific situations.
The role of a career counselor is hugely significant in the promotion of leadership development for students. The career decision making process naturally promotes leadership development as a result of the emphasis on helping students to learn about their strengths, limitations, personalities, interests, values, and other aspects of who they are as a person. This facilitates increased self-awareness.
Additionally, the process assists students to define the realms in which they wish to contribute through the work they will do when they graduate. Finally, it involves decision-making, planning, and goal setting. Advisors who use the process to assist students in developing these skills naturally contribute to the development of leadership competencies (Gordon, 2006; Gore, Jr. & Metz, 2008; McCollum, 1998; Zunker, 1998 ). Any of the leadership models with components associated with planning and decision-making could prove useful within the role of advisor as career counselor.
In transformational leadership, this would involve advisors modeling and teaching the practices of idealized influence by establishing trust based relationships with students and encouraging them to do so with teachers, peers, and others. In addition, they would provide inspirational motivation by helping students to clearly articulate inspirational goals for their educational efforts. Further, they could aid individualized consideration by listening, supporting, mentoring, and coaching students with regards to how to achieve their goals. Finally, they ought to encourage them to recruit peers, parents, and others to support them through the same methods as well as provide intellectual stimulation by helping them to think through and overcome challenges as they strive to accomplish their goals and plans. (Bass & Riggio, 2006)
As mentioned earlier, coaching is a process that allows an advisor to help a students to think through the processes needed to complete in order to make decisions, resolve challenges that arise, and achieve their dreams (McClellan & Moser, 2011). Through a process of inquiry, advisors as coaches guide students to think through and develop plans of action to address these items. Furthermore, they help students demonstrate follow-through and accountability and promote student motivation.
The process of coaching thus facilitates the cognitive thinking, problem solving, decision-making, planning and goal setting skills of students while increasing their self-awareness and motivation. Additionally, as coaching topics can address any number of challenges students face from conflict with a faculty member to challenges in organizing a study group, the potential for both direct and indirect conversations about and skill building in relation to leadership is strong.
Furthermore, by modeling the behaviors associated with effective coaching, advisors assist students to develop skills in self-awareness, problem solving, planning, and critical thinking. As a result, the use of coaching as an advising practice offers tremendous benefits in relation to the promotion of leadership development. Once again, an advisor coaching process for leadership development could be built upon any one of the leadership models.
In relation to this approach, however, the social change model of leadership provides a particularly relevant conceptual framework for advising as coaching. The components of the model – consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, collaboration, common purpose, controversy with civility, citizenship – provide a framework for coaching that advisor can use to promote leadership development. Advisors can thus teach students about each component, encourage them to engage in projects or specific activities to develop skill in each area, and follow up with them as they strive to develop in relation to each aspect of the model.
As outlined earlier, the role of an advisor as guidance counselor involves three primary behaviors: providing essential information, offering guidance in relation to course scheduling and degree completion, and giving referrals. All three of these efforts can significantly promote leadership development. Advisors can begin by becoming aware of the programs and resources available on their campuses for leadership development. With this knowledge they can provide students with information about these leadership development opportunities on their campus. They can then offer guidance regarding courses and how these might relate to the students growth as a leader, finally, they can refer students to leadership related programs and resources. Regardless of whether or not they do anything more than this, they will likely assist many students to consider and become involved in leadership development activities.
This advising role would not need to draw on any models for leadership development except, perhaps those espoused by the programs of the institution. Nonetheless, any model could be used as a framework for structuring the provision of guidance.
One of the significant roles of advisors on university campuses is that of an advocate for student interests, concerns, and success (NACADA, 2005; Nutt, 2010). As such advisors can contribute significantly to the development of and feedback regarding the quality of leadership programs and resources.
Furthermore, they can openly advocate for the inclusion of students in discussion related to these. Leadership program coordinators should be aware of the reality that students will often share insights and opinions about the quality of academic and extracurricular programs that they will not always convey to the programs directly via formal assessment efforts. Additionally, advisors are a major resource for advocating for student involvement in these programs. Consequently, two-way feedback loops should be carefully established to ensure that information is being conveyed in such a way that this role can benefit students and leadership efforts.
Curricular leadership programs, even if they are minors, should be very intentional about the design and conduct of their advising efforts to promote this and the other benefits of advising in relation to leadership development. Adaptive leadership and the social change model are particularly relevant for this role as it tends to be more political in nature.
Finally, advising, like leadership, is a social influence process designed to accomplish outcomes (Creamer & Creamer, 1994; Zenger & Folkman, 2002). Advisors are leaders (Barbuto et al., 2009; Lerstrom, 2008; McClellan, 2007). They have successfully navigated the contexts in which students find themselves. Thus, advisors are ideal mentors for students who are trying to develop skills associated with both leadership development and academic success.
By both modeling and tutoring students in relation to effective communication, time management, the conducting of effective meetings, self and other motivation, coaching, decision-making, planning, and the other leadership competencies, they can both directly and indirectly assist students to develop leadership skills. In addition, they can work to develop networks with other professionals whom they can draw upon as necessary to further assist the students they advise through referrals, information and knowledge acquisition and sharing, and problem solving. Kouzes and Posner’s (1995) model is particularly appropriate for guiding advisors who operate as mentors as it is built on the foundation of modeling the way as a leader. Once again, however, any of the models could be used.
In accordance with their model, Kouzes and Posner (1995) suggest that leaders begin by clarifying their own values and guiding principles and then helping their advisees to do the same. They then work to develop a shared vision of what they wish to accomplish with each student. Having done so, they can then embrace the challenge of helping the student to embrace his or her own journey to growth and development in college. In doing so, the advisor can do his or her best to support or enable the student to achieve his or her goals by providing advice, support, resources, or contacts as appropriate. Finally, the advisor can encourage the heart of the student by keeping commitments to help, showing appreciation, offering encouragement, and recognizing and celebrating the students’ successes. As advisors model effective leadership in this way and teach and encourage students to apply these principles, they mentor them to become better leaders themselves
Leadership development is important. In a discourse to college students, Robert Greenleaf (1998) declared, “I hope you will manage your lives the next three years so that you leave the university with a well set lifestyle of greatness, with attitudes and values and ways of initiating and responding that assure service in the public interest with distinction” (pp. 95-96). In order to achieve this capacity to lead, Greenleaf encouraged students to view the university as a real environment in which they could act intentionally to promote change and improvement. Through such efforts, he believed students could grow and develop as leaders and be able to begin to influence the world.
Greenleaf’s (1998) vision is becoming more and more real as we see a greater number of students becoming actively involved in community service, civic engagement, internships, and other forms of engaged learning. However, there remains a gap to fill in the intentional promotion of student’s growth as leaders.
Not all of the resources of the university are dedicated to the achievement of the multitude of university missions that both overtly and indirectly espouse leadership development. One of these resources is academic advising. In this article, an argument has been made for both the innate role of advising as a leadership development tool as well as the need for more intentional efforts to promote leadership development. This can be accomplished by raising awareness of advising as leadership development, educating advisors in relation to leadership theory, intentionally designing advising to promote leadership development outcomes, and altering the roles of advisors to incorporate leadership development activities. To the extent that this occurs, university educators may collaboratively develop a generation of leaders that help us escape the current leadership crisis.
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