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Course Intro


  Module Seven: Advisor Leadership  
  Basic Leadership Qualities    

HOSA Advisor Leadership

Advisor Leadership is an important topic in the Advisor Development Program. In this unit, we plan to examine issues that go beyond the "WHAT" and into the "WHY." We will look at the role of the advisor as a role model, moral leader, peacemaker, and judge. We will examine the moral imperative that makes being a HOSA advisor an ethical practice, and helps students learn the true meaning of being a member of a team.

In the classroom, you instruct the mind. In HOSA, you teach the whole student.
  In this module, we will examine three aspects of advisor leadership. They are:

1. Being successful
2. Management strategies
3. Dealing with change

As part of our analysis of advisor leadership, we will be using the works of three important management experts. Zig Ziglar, Kouzes and Posner, and Spencer Johnson, M.D.

NOTE: Numbers in parentheses indicate page numbers within the respective text.


"The Success Formula" by Zig Ziglar

    Ziglar, Zig. Success for Dummies. New York:IDG Books Worldwide Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-7645-5-61-6, www.idgbooks.com
         In order for a HOSA advisor to be "successful," the advisor must be able to define success. What is it we really want from serving as a HOSA advisor? Is success measured by what we do, or what students do? Is it based on specific outcomes, or can it be measured in the way students feel? Must there be achievement to be successful, or is success a process?

According to Zig Ziglar, in order to find your meaning for success, you must begin by "developing the right mental attitude" (12). Having a positive mental attitude means looking on the positive side of things. As an advisor, it means:

  • Having an attitude of acceptance, forgiveness, kindness, respect and consideration towards HOSA chapter members.
  • Keeping abreast of changes. If you don't know rule changes, deadlines, and requirements, your students will suffer.
  • "You need to have a positive yet cautiously realistic attitude, toward your own abilities and yourself" (13). And you need to convey that attitude to students. Expecting to win a gold medal at the National HOSA Conference when the student hasn't studied or practiced is unrealistic. Trying to be all things to all people is also unrealistic.
  • Be far more positive than negative. Help students see that it isn't about "what you won," it's about "what you learned." It's about the people you met, the good you accomplished, and the places you've been.         
         Once you get the right positive mental attitude, you need to "add the right skills" (14).
  • In HOSA, student success is the result of careful planning and paying attention to the details. While the advisor may not actually DO the details, he or she must be sure that HOSA members know what is expected so that they can get the job done. As an advisor, you must be skilled in the rules and processes.
  • Not knowing the rules can cause disappointment for us and our students. For example, an advisor encourages a student to run for state office. The student fills out the necessary application, sends everything in on time, gets all exited, writes a speech…and then receives a letter pointing out that he/she is not eligible to run for state office. In most cases, IT WAS IN WRITING. Nearly 100% of the mistakes made related to HOSA-related rules and guidelines could have been avoided if the members/advisors had read the directions.
  • "Without the skills that go with the right attitude, your success ceiling is predetermined, and it isn't especially high. Remember, motivation always precedes education" (14). In other words, people who are determined to "get it right" usually do.
  According the Zig Ziglar, the third element of the success formula is to have the "right philosophy" His Golden Rule is:
"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
  • What do your students really want? Ask them. Sit them down and ask them what they really want out of life. According to Zig Ziglar, they are going to tell you that what they really want is to be happy, to be healthy, to be reasonably prosperous, to be secure, to have friends, to have peace of mind, to have good family relationships, and to have hope (15).
  • Now, go back to Zig's Golden Rule and ask yourself this - if I were to help students get those things that they really want in life, how would I feel, and what would I get in return?
  • The U.S. Department of Labor says that 46% of the employees who voluntarily quit their jobs because they don't feel appreciated. Perhaps HOSA advisors and officers could learn a lesson from that statistic.
  • Does this make sense? Help HOSA members feel appreciated and feel like they are a part of the process, and they will be happier HOSA members. If that's what HOSA members want, and you give them what they want, then they will be happy, loyal, productive HOSA members. Isn't that what you want?
         Every year, a HOSA chapter had an end-of-the-year banquet at a nice hotel that served over-priced, tasteless hotel food. When HOSA members suggested an alternative, the advisor refused, responding "You all have complained about this banquet for years."

What's wrong with this picture? Is the advisor helping the HOSA members get what they want? Is the advisor really getting what he/she REALLY wants? Think about it….

The next step is finding your direction. Zig Ziglar tells us that we must have a game plan in order to be successful. HOSA advisors and HOSA members should have a plan as well. They need to know where they want to go, and how they are going to get there. A game plan!

Zig Ziglar describes people who have goals as:

"…happier and healthier and get along better with the folks at home. …these people also have more friends, more peace of mind, more security, and more hope for the future. These factors contribute to a longer and more rewarding life - I've never met a depressed individual who had specific, long-range goals and a plan of action to reach them" (17).

Expect to get where you want to go (18). As a HOSA advisor, you must model that ideal, and at the same time, help students learn the lesson as well. One area where you can apply the philosophy of developing goals and expectations is when students choose to enter a HOSA competitive event. The HOSA advisor sits down with the student and asks a few critical questions:

  • What do you expect to get out of this? Do you want to win? Is that all? What do you want to learn? How do you want your involvement in this event to help you in the future? What will really matter in the future - the knowledge, the experience, or the finalist pin? If you don't win, will you really have nothing? (Here, the student identifies that it's more than just winning.)
  • Next step - where do you want to go with this? Are you willing to put in the hours of practice needed to achieve the goal? If yes, then develop a plan you can stick to. Write it down. I want to win. I will study for 2 hours every Saturday morning. I will practice with my HOSA advisor during lunch every Wednesday, etc.
  • In many cases, advisors find that students do not want to work that hard to win. Advisors are able then to help students develop realistic goals, such as: I want to improve my speaking skills. I want to feel comfortable when speaking in front of others. I want to give my speech to the judges without messing up. If I give my speech to the best of my ability, I will have succeeded. Making it to the top 10 would be the icing on the cake.
  • "If you really want to improve your (skills) or your relationships, you must be honest with yourself and properly plan and prepare. Then, and only then, can you expect to achieve the desired results" (19).
         A new chapter went to a HOSA State Leadership Conference. The advisor helped the members focus their goals, which were to:
  • Have fun
  • Do their best
  • Learn about the organization
         When the conference was over, the 12 members from the new chapter were happy and excited. One team and two individuals had been called to the stage as finalists, and one member had been elected as a Regional Vice President for the following year. Everybody got along, nobody got in trouble, and the whole group had a great time.
  • How many chapters left that conference as excited as this new chapter? How many chapters knew where they wanted to go, and got there? Who is responsible to help HOSA members focus on what they really want, and then help them get there?
  • Another part of finding your direction is making sure that you, as the chapter advisor, model the values of professionalism, honor and sportsmanship that you expect from your students. Please don't take away the students' opportunity to succeed by doing their newsletter or notebook for them. Please don't focus solely on your "winners" and forgot your "achievers." And please don't say bad things to your students about other schools or advisors. Remember, your students are watching you.
  The fifth and final part of the success formula is "keying in on character."
  • Without character, the best attitude, the strongest skills, the most concrete philosophy, and the most worthwhile objectives mean nothing (19). HOSA advisors who cheat are never truly successful because without character, they can't have what really matters. Their victories are hollow, and that deep-down feeling of satisfaction is never there.
  • "People with integrity do the right thing. When you have integrity, you have nothing to fear because you have nothing to hide. In doing the right thing for the right reason, you experience no guilt and no fear. With those two albatrosses of fear and guilt removed from your back, it's much easier to travel farther, faster and higher" (19).   

The right attitude, plus specific skills, plus the right philosophy and the right objectives, all built on a character base, enables you to have winning relationships with friends, family, associates, and members of the community at large.

"The Leadership Challenge" by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

    Kouzes, James and Barry Posner. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco:Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 1995, ISBN 0-7879-0269-1 (paperback), 415 433-1740.  
  How would your HOSA chapter members describe you? How would you like them to describe you?

Would they say you are positive, organized, enthusiastic, personable, caring and unflappable? I work for someone who easily fits that description, and your students can too.

The Leadership Challenge is a research-based book on exemplary leadership. If you buy it and read a few pages every day, I am convinced you will become a skilled HOSA advisor and Health Occupations program manager. What follows on the next few pages is a taste of what Kouzes and Posner have discovered about the characteristics of exemplary leadership. HOSA advisors have much to learn from the best examples of big business if they understand that good leadership is good leadership, regardless of the setting.

Kouzes and Posner identify five fundamental practices that enable leaders to get extraordinary things done (9). Ordinary people who get extraordinary things done are able to:

  • Challenge the process
  • Inspire a shared vision
  • Enable others to act
  • Model the way
  • Encourage the heart
  "These practices aren't the private property of the people we studied or of a few shining stars. They've stood the test of time, and they're available to anyone, in any organization or situation, who accepts the leadership challenge" (9).

Challenging the Process

Successful HOSA advisors don't sit around and wait for their members to do something. They take action. What they do is encourage, suggest, and motivate their HOSA members.

HOSA advisors are pioneers. They help their students take risks, to innovate and experiment in order to find new and better ways of doing things. Ideally, it is not the HOSA advisor who generates all the ideas, but rather, the advisor who recognizes the good ideas of HOSA members, and supports those ideas. When an idea is a good one, the HOSA advisor will challenge the system in order to help HOSA members succeed. "Leaders know that experimentation, innovation, and change all involve risk and failure, but they succeed anyway" (10).

  • A group of HOSA members wanted to earn money to defray expenses to the National Leadership Conference, but school policies prohibited them from "fundraising." One of HOSA members complained that the band got to do "everything" because they had a booster club. What followed was a group of HOSA members who talked to their parents who in turn got organized, and in less than two months, those "HOSA Booster" parents raised over $2000 that they donated to the HOSA chapter for National Conference expenses. The HOSA advisor did none of the work, but she did encourage her students to create a new process for achieving their goals.
  Leaders are learners. They learn from their failures as well as their successes (10).
  • A HOSA member ran for state office, and didn't win. Her chapter advisor listened to all the campaign speeches, and weeks after the failed election, sat down with the student to discuss what had happened. Together, they analyzed what being an officer really meant, and why she wanted to be an officer. They discussed what it takes to deliver a winning campaign speech.

    The HOSA member decided she did indeed want to serve HOSA, and was willing to take a risk and try again. She went through the interview process, and the campaign, and the all important campaign speech. When the votes were counted, she had lost again.

    But a Board Member who had been on the interviewing committee was impressed with the sincerity and maturity of this HOSA member. She talked to the HOSA state advisor and chapter advisor, and they talked to the HOSA member. Together, they decided that this young lady was exceptional, confident, and truly willing to serve HOSA members. They decided to offer this member the opportunity to run for National office.

    The HOSA member tried again, and this time, she had learned from her experiences. This time, she was elected the National HOSA President-elect. Both the member and her chapter advisor had learned from their failures. What's more, they both have a deeper appreciation and respect for the effort and not just the outcome.

Some people dream of success…while others wake up and work hard at it.

Inspiring a Shared Vision

  "When people described to us their personal-best leadership experiences, they told of times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for their organization. They had visions and dreams of what could be" (10).

Perhaps it is a dream of what can be that transforms a HOSA chapter from "a part of the job" to something that really matters, a dream that is student-centered, and a dream that involves all the members - not just a chosen few.

Leaders inspire a shared vision. They have a desire to make something happen, to change the way things are, to create something that no one else has created before (11).

In some ways, leaders live their lives backward. They see pictures in their mind's eye of what the results will look like even before they start their project. Their clear image pulls them forward. HOSA advisors must be sure that they help HOSA members see and understand the vision as well. Remember, leaders cannot command commitment, only inspire it (11).

In order to inspire a shared vision, the HOSA advisor must:

  • Know his/her students and speak their language.
  • Understand their needs, hopes and aspirations.
  • Help students see the exciting possibilities that the future holds.
  • Show students how the dream is for the common good.
  • Show enthusiasm for the vision.

In HOSA, the vision begins in the classroom, and the ultimate goal is student achievement. HOSA takes the goals of the classroom to the next level. Experience tells us that HOSA and Health Occupations Education are so carefully connected that the dreams are the same - it's just the captain of the ship that differs. In the classroom, the teacher is calls the shots. In HOSA, the students set the course.

Consider the mission of HOSA when analyzing the vision. Does it inspire a shared vision, and is that vision related to the Health Occupations classroom?

    The mission of HOSA is to enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill and leadership development of all health occupations education students, therefore, helping students to meet the needs of the health care community.
  The HOSA Mission Statement presents a challenge that goes beyond classroom learning. It proposes a vision that begins in the classroom and takes form when HOSA members actually do things to support the vision. It provides a focus that binds the moral development of HOSA members to something meaningful, and helps connect students to the health care community to which they aspire.
  • One HOSA advisor has a poster with the HOSA mission statement on it in the front of his classroom. The mission statement helps the teacher direct classroom learning because it helps to explain "why" classroom learning is important. Chapter members have learned to use the mission to direct their decision-making process. Does the idea support the mission?

Enabling Others to Act

  Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort. Leadership is a team effort…

According to Kouzes and Posner, a simple test that can be used to determine is someone is a true leader is to notice how frequently the person uses the word "we."

"Exemplary leaders enlist the support and assistance of all those who must make the project work" (12). For the HOSA advisor, this concept is critical. HOSA advisors must enable students to act.

  • A HOSA advisor was at home with her two-week old baby when three HOSA members stopped by her house to see the new baby. They also had a request. They wanted to enter a booth at the county fair. There was no way the advisor could help them, but she did have time to help the students plan well for the event.

    Four weeks later, the advisor went to the fair and saw the booth. It didn't win any prizes, but it was very well done, and she was extremely proud of the three HOSA members who had the idea and followed it though. Best of all, the HOSA members were extremely proud of themselves.

    According to the HOSA advisor, "If I hadn't been home with the baby, I would have taken over the project. Because I was forced to back off, the results were far better than if I had been actively involved. Seeing these students achieve and knowing they did it all themselves was an incredible experience. I was forced to learn a valuable lesson about what a HOSA advisor really is."

  • A HOSA state advisor worked with a group of state officers to prepare for a state conference. The advisor had high expectations for the state officers, and worked to bring out the best in each and every one of them. She encouraged, praised, pushed, and sweet-talked the students into doing their very best.

    When the conference was over, the officers had an opportunity to share their thoughts with a small group of advisors, family members, and newly elected officers. They talked about each other, and how successful they had been as a team. They mentioned the strengths of each member, and how each officer had overcome obstacles to be successful. They talked about how proud they were to be a part of the team, and what a privilege it was to have worked together to accomplish their goals. But - they never mentioned their state advisor.

    At first, the state advisor felt a little hurt, but a few days later, she got it. She finally understood that she had allowed these officers to feel strong, capable and committed. She had enabled those students to act - not by hoarding her power as the state advisor, but by giving it away. It was the energy she gave to the officers that allowed them to produce extraordinary results.

"Leadership is a relationship, founded on trust and confidence. Without trust and confidence, people don't take risks. Without risks, there's no change. Without change, organizations and movements die" (12).


Modeling the Way

  "Leaders go first. They set an example and build commitment through simple, daily acts that create progress and momentum. Leaders model the way through personal example and dedicated execution" (13).

HOSA advisors are supposed to stand up for their beliefs, so they better have some beliefs to stand up for. What the HOSA advisor does is far more important that what he or she says - and the advisor must learn to be consistent. Keep in mind that HOSA advisors, particularly at the high school level, are continuously scrutinized by America's most observant critic - the American teenager. If you have any doubts about how observant these young people are, wear something new to school. "Uh, Mrs. Jones, I see you got new shoes." Her husband doesn't notice, but those kids do.

HOSA members notice everything, and the HOSA advisor must lead by example. Do you expect HOSA members to be on time for meetings? Fine, then you be on time too. Do you expect students to work hard and be persistent? Fine, then you work hard too.

Don't hesitate to share the truth behind your own personal accomplishments. Students need to know that their teacher's successes are the result of relentless effort, steadfastness, competence, and attention to detail.

  • One teacher and HOSA advisor has a philosophy that "no one fails." She does everything in her power to help students achieve in and out of the classroom. One student confessed that he began working harder in class to get the teacher off his back. Of course, the harder he worked, the more he learned.

The difference with HOSA is that the members set their own achievement goals. The wisdom on the part of HOSA advisor is in helping each individual meet his or her own goals. The advisor respects the goals of the individual, and is a role model for the rest of the chapter members.

HOSA advisors can model the way when helping students who are involved in competitive events. Successful advisors help students develop learning (not winning) goals, and help the members develop a plan for meeting their goals. The advisor helps the student with his/her performance and gives feedback - one step at a time. The advisor is proud of the process and the student's progress, and the student recognizes the evidence of his/her accomplishments.

"Concentrating on producing small wins, leaders build confidence that even the biggest challenges can be met. In so doing, they strengthen commitment to the long-term future" (13).

True leaders act with courage, stand tall in the face of adversity, and go where few have gone before…because they know that example is the greatest school of humanity.

Encouraging the Heart

  "The climb to the top is arduous and long. People become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They're often tempted to give up. Leaders encourage the heart of their constituents to carry on" (13).

By nature of the program, it is so easy to celebrate success in HOSA. Everything about HOSA is designed to provide opportunities for students to achieve. HOSA members can celebrate community service. They can go to a rest home and throw a party for the residents. They can sponsor a family at Christmas and truly feel the joy of giving. They can sponsor a bloodmobile and go out to dinner together afterwards to celebrate meeting their goals.

The HOSA advisor must understand his/her role in maintaining the enthusiasm for HOSA activities. The advisor is in a position to put the icing on the cake by recognizing the achievements of HOSA members. For example, HOSA advisors can:

  • Give out stickers, buttons, awards, etc. for any milestone achieved by HOSA members.
  • Put student accomplishments in the morning announcements at school, or call the local newspaper to write an article about their achievements.
  • Encourage students to organize functions for the purpose of recognizing their achievements.
  • Write a personal note to students, pointing out their achievements.
  • Send letters home to parents, or better yet, pick up the phone and tell the parents how proud you are of their son/daughter's achievements.
  • Encourage students to participate in HOSA recognition opportunities - such as the National Recognition Program, Barbara James Service Award, or National Service Project. In those events, everybody wins.
  • Look the student in the eye, and tell him/her about how you honestly feel about an accomplishment. "This is what you did, and this is why I'm proud of you. Even more importantly, this is why you should be proud of yourself."

How important is the HOSA advisor's role when it comes to student recognition? According to Kouzes and Posner, it's very important.

    "Encouragement is curiously serious business. It's how leaders visibly and behaviorally link rewards with performance" (14).
  "Encouragement is curiously serious business. It's how leaders visibly and behaviorally link rewards with performance" (14.

Ten Commitments of Leadership

Challenging the Process

1. Search out challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate and improve.

2. Experiment, take risks, and learn from the accompanying mistakes.

Inspiring a Shared Vision 3. Envision an uplifting and ennobling future.

4. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to their values, interests, hopes and dreams.

Enabling Others to Act 5. Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.

6. Strengthen people by giving power away, providing choice, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and offering visible support.

Modeling the Way 7. Set the example by behaving in ways that are consistent with shared values.

8. Achieve small wins that promote consistent progress and build commitment.

Encouraging the Heart 9. Recognize individual contributions to the success of every project.

10. Celebrate team accomplishments regularly.

Source: The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, Copyright © 1995