Counseling Faculty Modeling Transformational Leadership to Bring About Change

ASCCC Area D Representative, Equity and Diversity Action Committee Chair

The answer to transformational change lies within an individual’s ability to make a conscious effort to build a bridge between self-awareness and relationship management.  -LaTonya Parker


Since 1995, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) embedded the role of the counseling faculty within the mission of the California Community College (CCC) system. In 2012, the body adopted The Role of Counseling Faculty and Delivery of Counseling Services in the California Community Colleges which identified counseling faculty as “. . . professionally trained to diagnose the difficulties students  face  in  pursing  and  achieving  their  educational  goals,  to  prescribe  solutions  for  those  difficulties,  and  to  support  students  as  they  inch  or  stride  toward  success” (p.4). The Education Code’s definition of the role of counseling faculty reiterates the critical responsibility of the counselor to support student success in such areas as student self-assessment, decision-making, goal setting, and goal implementation.


While California community colleges are held accountable by the Board of Governors’ Vision for Success aspirational goal to eliminate equity gaps across retention and increase transfer, certificate, and degree completion, counseling teaching faculty are held responsible for student learning outcomes (SLO) for college success strategies courses. In looking backward, the Student Success Act of 2012 mandated the CCCs, which received state funding, to report progress on moving the needle towards improving achievement among under-represented students. During that period, counseling teaching faculty began offering more college success strategies courses to address the achievement gap (Cho, 2013; Hope, 2010; Karp & Stacey, 2013). The college success strategies courses provided students with information about campus resources, support services, college policies, study skills, critical thinking, time management, personal skills, academic and career planning (Hope, 2010; Karp & Stacey, 2013; Rutschow, Cullinan & Welbeck, 2012; Quinn, 2012). Hope (2010) indicated in her research about success strategies courses “. . . students would be much less likely to acquire these skills or behaviors on their own, and the course is a way to engender and promote the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary for college success” (p. 3).


Recent COVID-19 disruptions and calls to action for equity-driven higher education curriculum and student services have created a sense of urgency around examining what embracing diversity looks like in the classroom and in counseling services provided to students. Looking forward, the most revolutionary influence on the equity and inclusion evolution of online learning and student services in the California Community College system will not only include equipping faculty with the latest technology tools, but also professional transformational leadership development. The purpose of this article is to offer counseling faculty a leadership approach to bring about accountable actions in moving beyond the Student Equity and Achievement Plans and the adoptions of diversity and inclusion statements.


Much has been written about leadership and management in the CCC system. Basham (2012) offered a unique perspective to higher educational management. He defined transformational leadership as the extent to which one is able to serve, and influence change across disciplines. Additional educational research suggested leadership is essential in meeting the constant changes in an academic environment (Ashbaugh, 2013; Basham, 2012; Sanchez, 2014). Gunter (2001) indicated a restructured authentic learning hybrid curriculum, and effective web-enhanced developmental learning activities were beneficial to enhance students’ learning. Morales and Roig (2002) indicated technology integration in the classroom is a significant factor in promoting academic innovation.

The examination of effective instructional technology strategies for 21st century counseling faculty leaders is necessary in developing and enhancing equitable online learning in the California community colleges. Gunter (2001) researched the effectiveness of redesigning instructional strategies and implications for student learning. He stated that “to prepare educators for the 21stcentury, colleges of education must be leaders of change by providing pre-service teachers with a technology-enriched curriculum” (p. 1). Several studies introduced leadership constructs associated with organizational change and innovation adoption (Aarons, 2006; Anderson & Ackerman-Anderson, 2010; Ashbaugh, 2013; Basham, 2012; Bass, 1990; & Ozarialli, 2003; Sanchez, 2014). Aarons (2006) research has shown that there were links between leadership, organizational process, consumer satisfaction, and outcome. In addition, Ozaralli (2003) investigated the effects of transformational leadership on empowerment and team effectiveness, and she discovered significant correlation. Bass (1990) asserted transformational leaders challenge the organizational culture and possess the ability to share their vision. Bass (1990) also argued transformational leaders influence others and generate awareness by inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and meeting others’ emotional needs (Bass, 1990).

More recently, Basham (2012) offered a unique perspective to higher education management. He identified transformational leadership as the extent to which one is able to serve and learn across disciplines (Basham, 2012). He stated, “Transformational leadership is essential within higher education so that adaption can be completed to meet the constantly changing economic and academic environment” (Basham, 2012, p. 344). He introduced a Delphi study to address the question on whether presidents of higher education institutions utilize transformational leadership practices. He argued that elements of quality leadership were existent within every functioning activity representative who was serving in any capacity that could influence change. His findings concluded that presidents’ leadership competency is necessary, but further research on transformational leadership practices is needed. Although counseling faculty members are not administrators, and do not operate in the capacity as college presidents, the engaging leadership traits are noteworthy for the inevitable equity-driven system change in higher education online learning and student services. In addition, transformational leaders help followers grow and develop into leaders by responding to individual followers’ needs, empowering them, and aligning the objectives and goals of the individual followers, the leader, the group, and the larger organization (Bass & Riggio, 2006; Tuuk, 2012).

Cashman (2008), on the other hand, examined a holistic approach of personal mastery to leadership. His study integrated life’s experiences, beliefs, and conscious awareness. He offered an insightful guide for personal leadership development through awareness and authority (Cashman, 2008). According to Cashman (2008), 21stcentury organizational leadership requires leading with awareness and authority. Cashman (2008) suggested one’s leadership comes from intentional conscious personal discovery through clarifying identity, purpose, and vision. He proposed three essential questions for effective leadership exploration. “Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?” (Cashman, 2008, p. 33). The questions were addressed by acknowledging strengths and vulnerability. According to Anderson and Ackerman-Anderson (2010), leaders with greater self-awareness direct attention towards intentional development of their innermost being. While this leadership strategy was developed for ongoing purpose-driven discovery, Cashman’s (2008) ideology of reaching one’s full potential with personal discovery is applicable to equity-mindedness, organizational, transformational, and instructional program development. Kirby (2011) examined organizational change in private institutions of higher learning. Her investigation revealed organizational culture and leadership were included as part of the success strategy (Kirby, 2011). Her study introduced a framework for understanding transformational leadership. Kirby (2011) through her research indicated four fundamental leadership factors for developing organizational change. These factors were viewed as innovation strategies and were as follows: charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and idealized consideration. While much of the study focused on individuals’ relationship to the organization and relevant success factors, it served as a model for innovative change.


Moving beyond the traditional lecturing format, counseling faculty classroom lecturing practices should include modeling numerous technology strategies (Gunter, 2001).  For example, technology modeling lecture formats include Power Point, multimedia presentations, and world wide web sites (Gunter, 2001). Studies on the implementation of technology require counseling faculty to change traditional educational practices and adjust to fast changing content.  Morales & Rois (2002) indicated that the traditional lecturer and the passive information absorbing of student roles have transformed. The counseling faculty in the new teaching model teach students how to learn. This success strategy actively involves students in the learning process and transforms the old instruction model to one of facilitation, which enables students to become less dependent on faculty (Miller, 2012).  With the growing diversity within institutions of higher education, the role of faculty for preparing students for a global society takes on new meaning (Miller, 2012).  The key factor in implementing change includes educators changing their thoughts and using technology as an agent for transformational leadership.

Transformational leaders influence others and generate awareness by inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and meeting others’ emotional needs (Bass, 1990).  To be an influential leader for today’s community college, counseling faculty must demonstrate the principles in the development of courses to change students’ attitudes. These strategies for developing college success strategies courses, if adopted, could change students attitudes and could include the following: authentically presenting new information with the use of emerging technology; student involvement in the planning, processes, and evaluation; and intentional usage of credible technology resources (Thompson, AD, Simonson, MR, & Hargrave, CP 1996 as cited in Gunter, 2001). In reorganizing guidance course curriculum, counseling faculty must view themselves as learning facilitators. In summary, this article responded to the appeal for more accountable action related to factors associated with revolutionary organizational leadership strategies in order to implement equity-minded online courses and services that will increase student access and retention.


Aarons, G. A. (2006). Transformational and Transactional Leadership: Association with Attitudes Toward Evidence-Based Practice. Psychiatric Services, 57(8), 1162- 1169. Retrieved from

Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2012).The Role of Counseling

Faculty and Delivery of Counseling Services in the California Community Colleges. Retrieved from

Anderson, D., & Ackerman-Anderson, L. S. (2010). Beyond change management: how to
achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership. (2nd Ed.). (pp. 92). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Anderson, D., & Ackerman-Anderson, L. S. (2010). Beyond change management: how to
achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership. (2nd Ed.). (pp. 92). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Basham, L. (2012). Transformational leadership characteristics necessary for today’s leaders in higher education. Journal of International Education Research, 8(4), 343-348. Retrieved from T.pdf.

Bass, B. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19-31. Retrieved from….

Bass, B. M. & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational Leadership, (2nd Ed.). (pp. 3). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved from….

Cashman, K. (2008). Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life, (2nd Ed.) ISBN-13: 978-1602835351, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, pp. 21 -41. Retrieved from… labk&AN=7792>.

Cho, S., & Mechur Karp, M. (2013). Student Success Courses in the Community College: Early Enrollment and Educational Outcomes. Community College Review, 41(1), 86-103. Retrieved from… true&db=tfh&AN=85704917&site=eds-live.

Cullinan, Dan and Zachry Rutschow, Elizabeth and Welbeck, Rashida, Keeping Students on Course: An Impact Study of a Student Success Course at Guilford Technical Community College (April 2012). Retrieved from: or

Gunter, G. A. (2001). Making a difference: using emerging technologies and teaching strategies to restructure an undergraduate technology course for pre-service teachers. Educational Media International, 38(1), 13-20. Retrieved from doi: 10.1080/09523980010021190.

Hope, L. (2010). Literature review of student success courses. Retrieved from

Karp, M. J. M., & Stacey, G. W. (2013). Student success courses for sustained impact. Retrieved from

Kirby, J. A. (2011). Transformation in higher education: A case study of successful organization change and rebirth. (Order No. 3484417, Benedictine University). 161 ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 1 -138. Retrieved from (902632788).

Miller, F. S. (2012). Transforming Learning Environment: Strategies to Shape the Next Generation (16). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from doi:10.1108/S1479-3660(2012)0000016003.

Morales, L., & Roig, G. (2002).Connecting a technology faculty development program with student learning. Campus-Wide Information System, 19(2), 67-72. Retrieved from doi: 10.1108/10650740210421881.

Ozaralli, N. (2003). Effects of transformational leadership on empowerment and team effectiveness. Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 24(6), 335-344. Retrieved from doi:10.1108/01437730310494301.

Sanchez, R. U. (2014). Education in action an engine of change, creativity, innovation, leadership and social commitment. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(1), 33-38. Retrieved from…; db=eft&AN=97849240&site=ehost-live.

Tuuk, E. (2012). Transformational leadership in the coming decade: a response to three major workplace trends. Retrieved from… chrr.