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Advising as Servant Leadership: Investigating the Relationship

W. Kohle Paul, Valdosta State University

K. Courtney Smith, Valdosta State University
Brendan J. Dochney, Valdosta State University

Advisors serve in many, often overlooked, roles. exercised in a situation, and directed, through the
We investigated the supposition that McClellan communication process, toward the attainment of
(2007a) espoused between academic advising a specified goal or goals” (p. 24). Effective lead-
and servant leadership. Our hypotheses, that ers are passionate about their cause, motivate and
measures of servant leadership and developmental inspire those around them, and facilitate personal
advising are correlated and that wisdom is the best and professional growth in their followers (Kouzes
predictor of developmental advising behaviors, & Posner, 2007). Academic advisors exhibit many
were supported. We used Winston and Sandor’s of these leadership behaviors. McClellan (2007a)
(1984) Academic Advising Inventory and Barbuto suggested that the advisor-advisee interaction is
and Wheeler’s (2006) Servant Leadership similar to the servant leader–constituent interac-
Questionnaire to examine the relationship. Our tion, corroborating the point by stating that the
sample consisted of 223 undergraduates at a role of the advisor is to “help students integrate
midsized university in the southeastern United their academic learning with their personal and
States. Implications for practice include enhancing professional lives” (p. 41). Much like an effec-
advisor training and development. tive academic advisor, the servant-leader seeks to
empower others by helping them develop holisti-
KEYWORDS: Academic Advising Inventory, cally and provides constituents with the necessary
advising approaches, advisor training, professional resources to obtain success (Spears, 2004).
development, Servant Leadership Questionnaire The similarities prompted us to investigate
the relationship between servant leadership and
Research has consistently shown that academic academic advising at the university in which we
advisors play an integral part in the retention, work. The practical implications of the relationship
persistence, and success of college students. For between academic advising and servant leadership
example, academic advisors are coaches of student further the growth and development of academic
success, helping them take an active approach to advisors and the field of academic advising.
decision making and performance improvements
by using coaching-related activities and procedures Constructs of Servant Leadership and Their
(McClellan & Moser, 2011). Academic advisors Link to Academic Advising
are also teachers: “The excellent advisor helps Robert K. Greenleaf published an essay titled
the student to understand, and indeed in a certain The Servant as Leader in 1970. The underlying fac-
sense, to create the logic of the student’s curricu- tors that influenced this piece included his family
lum” (Lowenstein, 2005, p. 65). Students often turn and childhood, his experience in college, his time
to advisors when they face academic difficulties. spent working for AT&T, and his religious faith
Academic advisors seek out those students and (Greenleaf, 2003). However, it was not until he
try to help them identify and alleviate their prob- read Hesse’s Journey to the East that he concep-
lems through intrusive advising (Varney, 2007). tualized the term servant leadership (Greenleaf,
Finally, academic advisors prescribe classes and 1970; Greenleaf, 2003; Spears & Lawrence, 2004).
audit degree requirements. Greenleaf’s view of servant leadership encom-
However, despite the many recognized roles passed two key aspects: The potential leader must
of advisors, their leadership in terms of student desire to serve others first and only after first serv-
growth and development is often overlooked. ing can the individual feel moved to lead (Crip-
Hersey and Blanchard (1982) asserted that “lead- pen, 2005; Greenleaf, 1977). A person displaying
ership is the process of influencing the activities qualities of servant leadership sees those whom he
of an individual or a group in efforts toward goal or she serves grow, benefit, and succeed. Servant
achievement in a given situation” (p. 84). Addition- leadership constructs include listening, empathy,
ally, Tannenbaum, Weschler, and Massarik (1961) healing, awareness, persuasion, foresight, concep-
believed leadership to be “interpersonal influence, tualization, stewardship, commitment to the growth

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Paul et al.

of people, and building community (Crippen, 2005; habits were the best method for enhancing whole-
Greenleaf, 1970, 1977; McClellan, 2007a; Powers ness. Helping students achieve wholeness is a com-
& Moore, 2005; Spears, 2004; Spears & Lawrence, mon practice among effective advisors. According
2004). to Ryan (1992), an effective advisor aids students
in understanding and accepting themselves, often
Listening and Empathy by helping them first understand the skills that
Spears (2004) suggested that the act of listen- they must acquire to reach lifetime career goals
ing is perhaps the most important facet of servant (Ryan, 1992). Advisors should also assist advi-
leadership. While listening simply means hearing sees toward intellectual and social growth as they
the speech of another individual, such a simple explore life and career goals and choose programs
definition is not sufficient when applied to servant and activities that support their goals (O’Banion,
leadership or advising. The ability to listen criti- 1972/1994/2009). While advisors do not heal stu-
cally is an important skill utilized by both academic dents like a physician might, they work with them
advisors and servant-leaders. Spears (2004) stated to establish goals and purpose, which can help
that a servant-leader has “a deep commitment to confused and lost students find their way toward
listen intently to others…a servant-leader is an wholeness.
individual who listens receptively” (p. 8). Ryan
(1992) noted that effective advisors listen construc- Awareness
tively; that is, they seek to listen and understand all McClellan (2007a) defined awareness as a “piv-
aspects of students’ expressed problems. otal internal characteristic” of servant leadership
McClellan (2007a) corroborated the importance (p. 45). According to Crippen (2005), to embody
of key listening skill and included empathy as a the true meaning of awareness, servant-leaders
vital component of it. Although the term empathy must have both general and self awareness, which
is commonly used, many individuals do not fully results when one continually gains knowledge,
grasp the concept. Empathy is different than sym- including that about one’s self, and uses it to help
pathy: It is not merely feeling sorry for a person, others. McClellan (2007a) added that servant-
but reflects a true understanding and experiencing leaders not only gain knowledge from informa-
of feeling the emotions of another person. McClel- tion and knowledge about oneself, but they gain
lan (2007a) said that effective advisors, like ser- an understanding of how to use that information
vant-leaders, are able to facilitate personal growth to serve others. A servant-leader empowers other
within their constituents by listening critically and individuals and helps them progress (Howatson-
participating in active reflection to understand their Jones, 2004). In summary, a servant-leader gains
constituents’ feelings about their lived experiences. awareness to fulfill their leadership duties.
Awareness enhances an advisor’s knowledge
Healing of academic policies and procedures as well as
McClellan (2007a) stated that individuals most the ability to link particular classes to a student’s
commonly define healing as restoring one back holistic developmental goals. Advisors’ breadth of
to health again, thus causing many individuals to knowledge and ability to disseminate the informa-
ponder the reason Greenleaf had identified healing tion to their students in the appropriate situations
as a characteristic of servant leadership. However, are critical to the relationship between awareness
Greenleaf’s interpretation of healing differs from and academic advising (McClellan, 2007a).
the common definition of the word. Greenleaf
referred to the ability of servant-leaders to heal Persuasion
themselves and those whom they influence. Spears Unlike some other types of leaders, servant-
and Lawrence (2004) described this concept as leaders persuade their followers rather than force
seeking to make those who are broken whole again. them into making decisions (McClellan, 2007a;
At first glance the parallels between servant Spears, 2004). McClellan (2007a) defined persua-
leadership, advising, and healing may not be evi- sion as the ability of servant-leaders to help their
dent. Healing refers to holistic personal develop- followers make decisions that enhance themselves
ment. Holistic development is similar to Covey’s and others. Through persuasion, individuals are
(2004) four components of well-being. One can guided along in the decision-making process with-
become whole again by enhancing their physical, out losing their autonomy (McClellan, 2007a).
mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being (Covey, Greenleaf used consensus when describing persua-
2004). Covey believed changes in attitudes and sion in the servant leadership context (McClellan,

54 NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012

Advising as Servant Leadership

2007a; Spears, 2004): The servant-leader and the can empower students to become active learners
follower must reach an agreement about a deci- and participants in their educational endeavors.
sion. Similar to servant-leaders, academic advisors Empowerment, associated with stewardship, plays
assist students in developing the skills necessary an integral role in the growth of the student. An
for making well-planned decisions (Crookston, effective academic advisors’ commitment to help
1972/1994/2009). Advisors are students’ liaisons their students is analogous with a servant-leader’s
on campus, and through their advice, they direct deep commitment to the growth of the individuals
students rather than coerce them into making per- who work within her or his organization (Spears,
sonal and educational decisions (Ryan, 1992). 2004). Crookston (1972/1994/2009) suggested
that development theory provides the framework
Foresight and Conceptualization through which advisors assist students in becoming
Spears (2004) suggested that “foresight is a aware of their changing self. Through develop-
characteristic that enables the servant-leader to mental academic advising, the student and advisor
understand the lessons from the past, the realities collaboratively consider career and professional
of the present, and the likely consequence of a training options in the context of life as a whole
decision for the future” (p. 9). Greenleaf (1977) rather than as the center upon which one builds a
asserted that foresight enables a servant-leader life (Crookston, 1972/1994/2009). Appleby (2001)
to envision the future. The processes of envision- agreed that the advising process should focus upon
ing the future also entail creating a strategic plan life choices, as well as school and career options,
for reaching the intended outcomes of the vision. for the further development of the individual as a
The notion of aligning vision with planning is the person and not just as a student.
fundamental aspect of conceptualization as “the
capacity to develop a big-picture perspective and Building Community
plan” (McClellan, 2007a, p. 44). Spears (2004) Greenleaf (1977) stated that the capacity for an
contended that the act of helping an individual individual to grow, develop, and love is fostered
“dream great dreams” is also a vital aspect of con- though a community setting, and higher learning
ceptualization (p. 9). institutions facilitate a community in which stu-
The amalgamation of foresight and conceptual- dents can lead a self-fulfilling life. Using Greenleaf
ization characterizes successful academic advising. as a guide and the institutional situation, advi-
Academic advisors seek to help students create a sors can organize small groups to provide the vital
plan for their future based on the students’ past per- element of community (Powers & Moore, 2005).
formances, present endeavors, and future interests McClellan (2007a) pointed out that in building
(McClellan, 2007a). Ryan (1992) stated that aca- community with their students, advisors must pro-
demic advisors should provide their students with vide a caring atmosphere and suggested use of
a myriad of class, major, and occupation choices friendship behaviors. Advisors provide a caring
based on the students’ lived experiences. They climate by preparing for their advising appoint-
should also challenge the students to actively seek ments, exhibiting sincerity and empathy, and being
out and explore various choices as well as cocreate well-informed and accurate with the advice they
an educational action plan with them. give (Holmes, 2004).
Through the developmental model and shared
Stewardship and Commitment to the Growth of responsibilities, the advisor-student relationship
People grows with equality, strengthening the students’
The most salient facet of stewardship is the ser- environmental and interpersonal interactions. The
vant-leader’s commitment to serving the needs of skills and opportunities gained by students in com-
constituents (Spears, 2004). Through stewardship, munity may help them value the differences of
leaders help constituents grow both personally and others (Crookston, 1972/1994/2009).
professionally. McClellan (2007a) purported that
servant-leaders’ power provides them the oppor- Purpose of the Study
tunity to serve: “Power, therefore, is the means We set out to test McClellan’s (2007a) thesis
whereby leaders serve. Stewardship is the sense of of a relationship between academic advising and
responsibility leaders have with regard to the use servant leadership. We investigated which factor of
of the power they possess” (p. 47). servant leadership best predicts academic advising
Academic advisors also possess a great deal behaviors. We used Winston and Sandor’s (1984)
of power over the students they serve, and they Academic Advising Inventory (AAI) and Barbuto

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Paul et al.

and Wheeler’s (2006) Servant Leadership Ques- tal cues and understand their implications; they are
tionnaire (SLQ) to study the potential relationship very observant and anticipatory.
between academic advising and servant leadership.
The AAI is a brief survey designed to measure stu- Persuasive Mapping
dents’ perceptions of their advisors’ developmental Through persuasive mapping, Barbuto and
and prescriptive advising behaviors. The SLQ is a Wheeler (2006) suggested that leaders are adept at
brief questionnaire designed to measure individu- persuading, rather than coercing, their constituents
als’ servant leadership behaviors. to action. Persuasive mapping includes a leader’s
ability to visualize the future for the organization
Key Constructs of the Servant Leadership and constituents.
Barbuto and Wheeler’s (2006) original SLQ con- Organizational Stewardship
tained 11 constructs of servant leadership including Organizational stewardship describes the extent
calling, listening, empathy, healing, awareness, to which leaders prepare their organization to make
persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, steward- a positive contribution to society through com-
ship, growth, and community building. However, munity development, programs, and outreach
through a factor analysis, they reduced the origi- (Barbuto & Wheeler, 2006). Leaders expressing
nal 11 factors to 5 factors. Barbuto and Wheeler organizational stewardship strive to improve the
(2006) contended that listening and empathy are community on multiple measures.
important facets for all types of leadership and thus
did not warrant consideration as unique constructs Hypotheses
for their study. They also removed the constructs The constructs of servant leadership, identified
of community building and growth because they by Greenleaf (1977), including listening, empathy,
did not contribute any empirical significance to healing, awareness, persuasion, foresight, concep-
the questionnaire. They combined servant leader- tualization, stewardship, commitment to the growth
ship behaviors labeled under the awareness and of people, and building community, play an integral
foresight constructs into the construct of wisdom, role in academic advising and are imperative to the
and combined persuasion and conceptualization advisor-advisee relationship (McClellan, 2007a).
to create the construct of persuasive mapping. The Crookston (1972/1994/2009) asserted that devel-
final constructs in the final version of the SLQ were opmental advising is focused on the development
altruistic calling, emotional healing, wisdom, per- and growth of students’ problem-solving, decision-
suasive mapping, and organizational stewardship. making, and evaluation skills. King (2005) stated,
“Developmental academic advising recognizes the
Altruistic Calling importance of interactions between the student
Individuals with an altruistic calling tend to and the campus environment, it focuses on the
place the needs of their constituents over their whole person, and it works with the student at that
own needs. They also have a desire to influence person’s own life stage of development.” Based
and make a positive difference in the lives of their on Greenleaf’s formulation of servant leadership
constituents (Barbuto & Wheeler, 2006). and Crookston’s and King’s conceptualizations of
developmental advising, we believe a significant
Emotional Healing positive relationship exists between developmental
Barbuto and Wheeler (2006) contended that academic advising and servant leadership.
emotional healing involves a leader’s deep rooted Once we found the proposition supported, we
commitment to helping followers recover from determined which factor of servant leadership is
hardship or trauma. Individuals who exhibit the the best predictor of developmental academic-
characteristic of emotional healing tend to be advising practice. The construct of awareness
empathetic and understanding of others’ misfor- refers to a servant-leader’s willingness to seek
tunes and traumatic experiences. out knowledge and use it to help others (Crippen,
2005). Awareness is a salient part of Barbuto and
Wisdom Wheeler’s (2006) operationalization of wisdom,
Barbuto and Wheeler (2006) asserted that wis- which incorporates servant-leaders’ quest for
dom is a combination of environmental awareness knowledge and their ability to share that knowl-
and anticipation of consequences. Leaders who edge for the betterment of their constituents. Like
exhibit wisdom proficiently interpret environmen- effective servant-leaders, academic advisors also

56 NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012

Advising as Servant Leadership

seek to gain awareness of their environment and Instruments

share it with their students. Research has shown Academic Advising Inventory. We measured
that advisors’ knowledge of degree requirements academic advisors’ developmental and prescrip-
and institutional policies and procedures consis- tive advising characteristics using Part I of Winston
tently ranks at the top of students’ list of factors and Sandor’s (1984) AAI. The scale consisted of
influencing their college experience (Noel-Levitz, 14 questions designed to measure developmental-
2010). Therefore, based on the importance and prescriptive advising (DPA) behaviors (α = .78).
similarities between awareness in servant leader- The subscales used to measure DPA behaviors were
ship and academic advising as well as Barbuto and personalizing education (PE) (α = .81), academic
Wheeler’s (2006) operationalization of wisdom, decision making (ADM) (α = .66), and selecting
we considered wisdom to be the construct of ser- courses (SC) (α = .42). The PE subscale focuses on
vant leadership that characterizes the concepts and the holistic educational development of the student
qualities of developmental advising. The hypoth- through measures of career and vocational plan-
eses are summarized as follows: ning, extracurricular activities, personal concerns,
goal setting, and identification and utilization of on
H1. AAI developmental advising behavior campus resources (Winston & Sandor, 2002, p. 11).
scores will be positively and significantly The ADM subscale provides information on stu-
related to SLQ behavior scores. dent academic progress as well as student interests
H2. The most significant predictor of AAI and abilities concerning academic concentrations
developmental advising behavior scores (Winston & Sandor, 2002, p. 11). The SC subscale
will be wisdom behavior scores. addresses the process of planning and scheduling
classes (Winston & Sandor, 2002). Each of the 14
Methods questions contained two statements with 4-point
Participants Likert-type scales with the range from very true
We identified all the classes across campus (1) to slightly true (4). Participants chose which of
that contained similar demographics as the under- the two statements for each question best portrayed
graduate population. Using a purposive sampling the behaviors exhibited by their academic advisor.
technique (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2009), we selected After choosing the most applicable statement, the
5 of the 20 identified classes as our sample. The participants marked the level of trueness via the
participants consisted of 223 undergraduates from Likert-type scale, that reflects the behavior of their
a midsize university in the southeastern United advisor.
States. The participant demographic breakdown Servant Leadership Questionnaire. We also
for gender was 69.1% female and 30.9% male; the measured academic advisors’ servant leadership
entire undergraduate population is 58.4% female behaviors using Barbuto and Wheeler’s (2006)
and 41.6% male. By class, participants consisted SLQ. The 23-item questionnaire contained five
of 27.3% freshmen, 26.5% sophomores, 20.2% subscales: altruistic calling (AC) (α = .82), emo-
juniors, and 26.0% seniors, which are data similar tional healing (EH) (α = .91), wisdom (WIS) (α =
to that of the general population at 28.0% fresh- .92), persuasive mapping (PM) (α = .87), and orga-
men, 22.4% sophomores, 21.8% juniors, and 27.0% nizational stewardship (OS) (α = .89). To rate their
seniors. The participants indicated that they were advisor’s performance on the different dimensions
(2.2% declined to respond) 48.4% White, 39.0% identified in the questionnaire, participants used a
Black, 5.4% multiracial, 3.6% Hispanic, and 1.3% 5-point Likert-type scale with options ranging from
Asian; the racial/ethnic make-up of the general strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5).
population is 59.3% White, 30.6% Black, 3.3%
Hispanic, 2.5% multiracial, 2.4% unknown, 1.3% Procedure
Asian, 0.3% Native American, and 0.2% Pacific We used the seat analysis tool (SAT) offered
Islander. The five most frequently reported majors through the Office of Strategic Research and
included psychology, 27.4%; nursing, 13.9%; Analysis at the studied institution to target classes
biology, 10.3%; criminal justice, 8.5%; and early that contained similar demographic characteristics
childhood education, 4.5% for the sample. The top (gender, major, ethnicity, and class breakdown) as
five majors of the total undergraduate population the undergraduate population. The SAT revealed
are biology, 8.3%; nursing, 8.2%; early childhood 20 different classes across campus encompassing
education, 6.0%; psychology, 5.6%; and criminal approximately 1,000 students with similar demo-
justice, 4.4%. graphics as the undergraduate student population.

NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012 57

Paul et al.

We contacted the professors of each class, via 2-8 as prescriptive and those ranging from 9-16
e-mail and telephone, about the possibility of ask- as developmental.
ing their students to be part of the study. Of the We analyzed the SLQ by coding the Likert-
professor’s contacted, five agreed to let us contact type scale with the corresponding numerical values
the students and agreed to give extra credit to those (1-strongly agree, 2-disagree, 3-neither agree nor
who participated. Instead of taking up class time disagree, 4-agree, 5-strongly agree) and calculated
to complete the survey, we gave the surveys to the the average rater response for each subscale: AC
students during the first class meeting of the week items 3, 8, 11, 18; EH items 4, 9, 14, 19; WIS
and returned for the second class meeting of the items 1, 6, 12, 16, 22; PM items 2, 7, 13, 17, 21;
week to pick up the completed questionnaires. We OS items 5, 10, 15, 20. High (at or near 5) average
asked each participant if he or she had been advised rater responses scores on each subscale correlated
during the Fall 2010 advising period. We excluded with the exhibition of advisors’ servant-leadership
participants who indicated that they had not been behaviors.
advised; they received an alternative extra-credit
assignment from their professor. Results
For those participants who had been advised, we We conducted a Pearson product-moment corre-
explained the steps to complete the survey, which lation to determine the relationship between devel-
were also written at the beginning of the instru- opmental advising and servant leadership. Each
ment. The standardization of the data collection factor of servant leadership was positively and
procedure helped reduce the risk of an instrumen- significantly correlated with DPA scores (see Table
tation threat to internal validity. We collected data 1). We conducted a standard multiple-regression
immediately after the Fall 2010 advising period analysis to determine which construct of servant
ended so participants’ advising experiences would leadership was the most significant predictor of
be fresh and the likelihood of participant matura- DPA scores. The model contained five indepen-
tion would be minimal. dent variables and one dependent variable. The
We handed out 256 surveys to the five par- five independent variables included AC, EH, WIS,
ticipating classes. Of the 235 returned, 223 were PM, and OS. The dependent variable was DPA
usable because 12 participants incorrectly com- score. The analysis of the full model containing all
pleted it. The high return rate (92%) is likely due to five predictors showed statistical significance: F(5,
extra credit opportunities offered by each professor 222) = 30.34, p < .001; R = .64; R2 = .41. Based
for completion of the survey. on standardized beta weights, the best predictor of
DPA scores was WIS (see Table 2).
We analyzed the results using SPSS-17. We Discussion and Implications for Practice
conducted analysis of Part I of the AAI by cod- McClellan (2007a) demonstrated the theoreti-
ing the response on each question with the corre- cal and philosophical relevance of the interplay
sponding numerical value listed in the AAI user’s between academic advising and servant leader-
manual (Winston & Sandor, 2002). We added each ship. We believe, based on the literature, that the
number corresponding to the response on each models of developmental advising and servant
question to obtain the DPA score. We calculated leadership are similar. Our initial hypothesis was
each subscale score, (PE questions 1, 3-5, 8-10, 13; supported: We found a significant positive relation-
ADM questions 6, 7, 11, 14; SC questions 2, 12) by ship between advisors’ developmental advising and
summing up the numerical values corresponding their servant-leadership behaviors. In particular,
with each question contained within each subscale. WIS showed the strongest correlation with DPA
DPA scores could range from 14-112. We labeled scores, followed by PM, OS, EH, and AC, respec-
those in the 14-56 range as prescriptive and scores tively. Our study also provides empirical evidence
in the 57-112 range as developmental. PE scores to support McClellan’s (2007a) thesis that servant
could range from 8-64. We labeled those scores leadership and academic advising share many simi-
ranging from 8-32 as prescriptive and those ranging lar constructs.
from 33-64 as developmental. ADM scores could Our second hypothesis was also supported: The
range from 4-32. We labeled ADM scores ranging results of the multiple regression analysis con-
from 4-17 as prescriptive and those ranging from cluded that the best predictor of DPA scores was
18-32 as developmental. SC scores could range WIS (wisdom). PM was also a significant predictor
from 2-16. We labeled SC scores ranging from of developmental advising behaviors. The combi-

58 NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012

Advising as Servant Leadership

Table 1. Intercorrelation values of developmental-prescriptive advising behavior scores and servant

leadership behavior scores (N = 223)
DPA 1.00
AC .44** 1.00
EH .47** .49** 1.00
WIS .61** .63** .67** 1.00
PM .60** .62** .64** .81**a 1.00
OS .52** .64** .63** .74** .79**a 1.00
Note. DPA = developmental-prescriptive advising; AC = altruistic calling; EH = emotional healing; WIS
= wisdom; PM = persuasive mapping; OS = organizational stewardship
Variance inflation factor < 5, Tolerance statistic > .2 (Field, 2009)
** p < .01

Table 2. Summary of regression analysis for servant leadership scores predicting developmental-pre-
scriptive advising scores (N = 223)
Construct B SE B β t
Altruistic Calling (AC) .346 .694 .036 .499
Emotional Healing (EH) .643 .733 .064 .877
Wisdom (WIS) 2.86 .899 .315 3.18*
Persuasive Mapping (PM) 3.06 1.09 .293 2.80*
Organizational Stewardship (OS) -.090 .959 -.009 -.094
Note. R2 = .41, F (5, 222) = 30.34, p < .001; R = .64; * p < .01

nation of all five predictors accounted for 41% of tunities could enhance advisor training and devel-
the variance in DPA scores. opment programs, which typically offer devel-
The constructs of WIS and PM were likely opmental advising topics (Noel-Levitz, 2006).
significant predictors of developmental advising Because effective advising has been positively
behaviors because the operationalization of both linked to student retention and persistence (Light,
is similar to the facets that students’ rate as the 2001; McArthur, 2005; Poisel & Stinard, 2005;
most important of their advising experience. WIS Tinto, 2004), professional development opportu-
encompasses servant-leaders’ ability to remain nities are important, particularly those composed
critically aware of and anticipate consequences of material covering the concepts of wisdom and
based on their changing environment. This type persuasive mapping. According to our model, these
of behavior is consistent with an academic advi- constructs may best enhance advisor developmen-
sor who remains critically aware of environmen- tal-advising behaviors. We suggest wisdom and
tal changes within the institution and anticipates persuasion mapping may be more easy to encom-
consequences, based on the changes, that could pass and operationalize as advisor development
affect students. PM encompasses servant-leaders’ opportunities than the simultaneous incorporation
ability to persuade their constituents and visualize of every facet of servant leadership.
future events for their organization. This coincides Second, servant leadership development pro-
with the academic advisor who does not coerce vides advisors the opportunity to grow as leaders.
a student to take particular classes or pick a par- The vast majority of college and university admin-
ticular major but offers compelling reasons for istrators, such as deans, provosts, and advising
choosing the particular classes and major aligned directors, consists of former college and univer-
with the student’s future educational and profes- sity faculty and staff members. Higher education
sional endeavors. institutions should start focusing on the individual
The importance of the relationship between leadership development as soon as possible regard-
developmental advising and servant leadership less of a person’s hierarchical standing within the
are threefold. First, servant leadership workshops, institution (Hewison, 2009; Lacey-Haun & White-
webinars, focus groups, and other learning oppor- head, 2009).

NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012 59

Paul et al.

Third, servant leadership development could servant-leadership behaviors instrument should be

help ground leadership theory in advising peda- further explored.
gogy and add additional insight and value to the
conceptual, informational, relational, technologi- References
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and development (King, 2000; McClellan, 2007b; advising connection. The Mentor: An Academic
Nutt, 2003). The holistic growth of advisors Advising Journal, 3. Retrieved from http://dus.
through servant leadership development would psu.edu/mentor/appleby1.htm
provide advisors additional worldviews to inform Barbuto, J. E., & Wheeler, D. W. (2006). Scale
their own perceptions of their purpose in higher development and construct clarification of ser-
education. Academic advisors would not only see vant leadership. Group & Organization Man-
themselves as teachers, coaches, counselors, and agement, 31(3), 300–26.
prescribers of classes but also as leaders of student Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective
development. people. New York, NY: Free Press.
Crippen, C. (2005). Servant leadership as an effec-
Limitations and Future Research tive model for educational leadership and man-
We conducted our study at a single university agement: First to serve, then to lead. Manage-
in the southeastern United States and employed a ment in Education, 18(5), 11–16.
purposive sampling technique. Therefore, we rec- Crookston, B. B. (2009). A developmental view
ommend that others conduct multiple replications of academic advising as teaching. NACADA
of our study in different geographical locations to Journal, 29(1), 78–82. (Reprinted from Journal
strengthen the generalizeability of the results. Par- of College Student Personnel, 13, 1972, pp.
ticipants received extra credit for their participation 12–17; NACADA Journal, 14[2], 1994, pp. 5–9)
in the study, and participants’ lack of interest in the Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS
study and their commitment to gain extra credit (3rd ed.). London, UK: Sage.
may have affected their responses. We explained Fraenkel, J. R., & Wallen, N. E. (2009). How to
how to complete the surveys to each participant design and evaluate research in education (7th
when we distributed the surveys to each partici- ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
pating class; however, we were not present when Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader.
the participants completed the surveys and thus Indianapolis, IN: Greenleaf Center.
we were unable to answer participants’ questions Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A
regarding survey structure and understanding of the journey into the nature of legitimate power and
items. We suggest administering the surveys dur- greatness (25th Anniversary Ed.). New York,
ing class time so participants could ask questions NY: Paulist.
and receive feedback. Also, the SLQ is typically Greenleaf, R. K. (2003). The servant-leader within.
used in the organizational setting. We could not Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
find a servant leadership instrument geared strictly Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. (1982). Management
toward college students’ perceptions of their advi- of organizational behavior: Utilizing human
sor’s servant leadership behaviors. resources (4th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
The use of servant leadership development to Prentice-Hall.
enhance advisor training and development should Hewison, A. (2009). Do we expect too much of our
be further investigated. Future research should leaders? Journal of Nursing Management, 17(8),
focus on the impact that servant leadership devel- 913–16. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2009.01057.x
opment has on advisor training and development, Holmes, C. E. (2004). Handle with care: The sig-
student success, and institutional growth. In our nificance of caring in academic advising (Doc-
study, the best predictors of developmental advis- toral dissertation). Available from the ProQuest
ing characteristics were wisdom and persuasive Dissertations and Theses database. (DAI)
mapping, and therefore, future research should Howatson-Jones, I. L. (2004). The servant leader.
also explore the relationship and impact of these Nursing Management, 11(3), 20–24.
specific constructs on academic advising and advi- King, M. C. (2000). Designing effective train-
sor training and development. If advisor servant ing for academic advisors. In V. G. Gordon
leadership behaviors are to be used in advisor & W. R. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising: a
assessment, research, and training and develop- comprehensive handbook. San Francisco, CA:
ment, then the creation and validation of an advisor Jossey-Bass.

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King, M. C. (2005). Developmental academic 1994, 14[2], pp. 10–16)

advising. Retrieved from http://www.nacada. Poisel, M. A., & Stinard, C. A. (2005). Networks for
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Lacey-Haun, L. C., & Whitehead, T. D. (2009). Ryan, C. C. (1992). Advising as teaching. NACADA
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10.1111/j.1365-2834.2008.00955.x Spears, L. C., & Lawrence, M. (2004). Practicing
Light, R. J. (2001). Making the most of college: servant-leadership: Succeeding through trust,
Students speak their minds. Cambridge, MA: bravery, and forgiveness. San Francisco, CA:
Harvard University Press. Jossey-Bass.
Lowenstein, M. (2005). If advising is teaching, SPSS Version 17 [computer software]. IBM.
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25(2), 65–73. F. (1961). Leadership and organization: A
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An important factor in community college reten- McGraw Hill.
tion. Community College Review, 32(4), 1–19. Tinto, V. (2004). Student retention and graduation:
McClellan, J. L. (2007a). The advisor as servant: Facing the truth, living with the consequences
The theoretical and philosophical relevance of (Occasional Paper 1). Washington, DC: The
servant leadership. NACADA Journal, 27(2), Pell Institution for the Study of Opportunity in
41–49. Education.
McClellan, J. L. (2007b). Content components Varney, J. (2007). Intrusive advising. Academic
for advisor training: Revisited. Retrieved from Advising Today, 30(3). Retrieved from http://
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AdvisingIssues/Training-Revisited.htm Winston, R. B., & Sandor, J. A. (1984). Academic
McClellan, J. L., & Moser, C. (2011). A practical advising inventory. Athens, GA: Student Devel-
approach to advising as coaching. Retrieved opment Associates.
from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearing- Winston, R. B., & Sandor, J. A. (2002). Evaluating
house/AdvisingIssues/advising-as-coaching. academic advising: Manual for the academic
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Noel-Levitz (2006). 2006 Advising needs report: opment Associates.
Summary of findings from National Advising
Needs Survey. Retrieved February 1, 2011, Authors’ Notes
from http://www.gcccd.edu/research/thinktank/ After serving as an academic advisor and the
Reports/Advising_Needs_Report_2006.pdf Graduate Assistant Advisor Training Coordinator
Noel-Levitz (2010). 2010 National student satis- for the OASIS Center for Advising at Valdosta State
faction and priorities report. Retrieved from University, W. Kohle Paul has accepted a position
https://www.noellevitz.com/documents/shared/ as Coordinator of Student Success and Retention
Papers_and_Research/2010/SSI_public%20 at Georgia Perimeter College Dunwoody campus.
report%20A_0910%20indd.pdf He is working toward a doctorate in higher educa-
Nutt, C. L. (2003). Creating advisor-training and tion leadership at Valdosta State University. His
development programs. In Advisor training: main research area focuses on investigating the
Exemplary practices in the development of applicability of servant leadership as an effective
advisor skills (Monograph No. 9) (pp. 9–11). model for advising and advisor development. He is
Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising currently developing an academic advisor servant-
Association. leadership behavior scale as a follow-up to this
O’Banion, T. (2009). 1994 (1972): An academic piece and as part of his dissertation. He can be
advising model, NACADA Journal, 29(1), reached at kohlepaul@gmail.com.
83–89. (Reprinted from Junior College Journal,
42, 1972, pp. 62, 63, 66–69; NACADA Journal, K. Courtney Smith served as a graduate assis-

NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012 61

Paul et al.

tant advisor for the OASIS Center for Advising at Brendan J. Dochney served as a graduate assis-
Valdosta State University while working on this tant advisor for the OASIS Center for Advising at
research project. She graduated in July 2011 with Valdosta State University while working on this
an MS in clinical-counseling psychology. She now research project. He graduated in May 2011 with
works as a regional manager for Special Olympics a MS in clinical-counseling psychology. He now
Georgia. works as an activity therapist at Georgia Regional
Hospital in Savannah.

62 NACADA Journal        Volume 32(1)      Spring 2012