Contribution of Professional School Counselors' Values and Leadership Practices to Their Programmatic Service Delivery

Article excerpt

School counselors are called to be leaders to support the development of all students. The study in this article investigated the contributions of the values (Schwartz, 19921 and leadership practices (Posner & Kouzes, 1988) of 163 school counselors to their programmatic service delivery (Scarborough, 2005). Leadership practices made significant contributions (40% of variance) to the school counselors' service delivery, whereas values made small nonsignificant (less than 1% of variance) contributions. Implications for school counselors and counselor educators are discussed.

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School counselors have been called to deliver programmatic services in order to support the academic, career, and personal/social development of all students through the coordination and facilitation of their comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2004, 2005). However, research suggests that various factors exist that may impede effective programmatic service deliver),, such as (a) role inconsistencies (Lieberman, 2004), (b) lack of administrative support (Berry, 2006), and (c) fear of failure and risk-taking (Dollarhide, Gibson, & Saginak, 2008). To overcome these challenges and advance effective service delivery, school counselors have been encouraged to assume leadership roles in their schools.

The ASCA National Model [R] (2005) recommends that school counselors engage in leadership roles to support students' academic achievement and holistic development through enhanced service delivery. Additionally, ASCA's (2007) School Counselor Competencies state that an effective school counselor "serves as a leader in the school and community, to promote and support student success" (Standard 1-B-2). The Education Trust (Perusse & Goodnough, 2001) recognized the need for school counselors to be more significant contributors to systemic accountability and developed the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (Martin, 2002), whereby school counselors may become visionary collaborators and leaders within their schools. The need for school counselors to serve as leaders has been recognized not only by ASCA and the Education Trust (2007) but also by researchers in the field (e.g., Dollarhide et al., 2008), advocating that school counselors engage in more operational leadership practices in order to (a) deliver more appropriate services to meet the needs of all students, (b) promote their professional identity, and (c) disambiguate their professional roles. Therefore, school counselors' leadership practices might influence the comprehensive, programmatic service delivery they provide to their students and stakeholders.

VALUES, LEADERSHIP PRACTICES, AND PROGRAMMATIC SERVICE DELIVERY

The literature notes the importance of school counselors' values, leadership practices, and school counseling programmatic service delivery in supporting the holistic needs of all students. In order to set an accurate context for the study that follows, each of these constructs is operationally defined below.

Values

Schwartz (1992) contended that values are "desirable, transsituational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in people's lives" (p. 2). Values are also the guiding principles that are ordered in importance and serve as standards for judging and justifying actions (Schwartz). Individuals acquire their values through "socialization to dominant groups and unique learning experiences" (Schwartz, 1994, p. 21). Furthermore, values guide actions, attitudes, and behavior choices (Schwartz & Boehnke, 2004) and are cognitive representations of an individual's motivation to attain an identified goal, build relationships (Schwartz, 2006), and direct group functioning (Schwartz & Sagiv, 1995). Therefore, school counselors' values may influence their personal and professional actions and also may motivate their choices in delivering service to students. …