The Officer Advisor Relationship

What is an Advisor?

First and foremost, an advisor is an educator – an educator in a non-traditional classroom. The advisor uses personal expertise and perspective to stimulate individual development of members and the overall development of the organization.

Competencies and Tips

  • An essential skill for an advisor is the ability to assess accurately the group’s situation and adapt an appropriate intervention strategy, which matches the needs of the group.
  • The advisor must serve as a resource person.
  • Tactful honesty is a most valued interpersonal quality.
  • The advisor must possess a sincere belief in the group and its goals, and supports the goals enthusiastically.
  • The advisor should never underestimate the importance and power of positive reinforcement.
  • Each student needs a balance of challenge and support. Both components are essential for maximum growth.
  • "People support what they help create.” Students need to feel ownership and active participation.
  • The advisor must establish his expectations of the group, and the members of the group must establish their expectations of the advisor. Mutual expectations minimize confusion.
  • An advisor truly has the potential to impact positively with the group and can assist in the development of leaders and members in an organizational setting.

Outside of Work

  1. Be a role model.
  2. Maintain a balance between friend and professional advisor.
  3. Maintain your credibility.

The Officer-Advisor Relationship

Chapter officers may expect an advisor to:

  • Assist the group in formulating long-range goals and in planning and initiating short-term projects.
  • Provide resource information pertaining to the goals and purpose of the organization.
  • Suggest ways that meetings of the organization can be improved.
  • Assist the officers in evaluating projects, performances and progress.
  • Suggest ways that will increase the officer’s leadership skills.
  • Participate in social events.
  • Be available when emergencies or problems arise.
  • Attend meetings and programs.

An advisor may expect chapter officers to:

  • Keep the advisor informed of all organizational activities, meetings, issues and agendas, and send the advisor minutes of all meetings.
  • Meet regularly with the advisor to discuss organizational problems.
  • Inform the advisor of any potential problems or concerns.
  • Inform he advisor of programs and services sponsored by the organization.

Building the Relationship

Building an open and honest relationship between a chapter and an advisor requires considerable effort and time. How does a chapter leader build an open and honest relationship that affords the opportunity to share ideas and receive feedback from the advisor?

  • The responsibility for building the relationship must be shared between advisor and student.
  • The relationship must be based upon open, direct communication.
  • Both must recognize their various roles and responsibilities in and outside of their activities position.
  • Both advisor and student are human beings who make mistakes, follow their own value systems and work in individual professional and personal styles.
  • Both advisor and student are continually growing, changing, and learning, each within their own unique stages of development.

Establishing Credibility with the Chapter

When building rapport and a relationship as a chapter’s advisor two important things to keep in mind are follow through (“under promise and over deliver”) and being far enough removed from the chapter where the men will be receptive to your advising. The National Fraternity recommends that the chapter advisor be a minimum of three years removed from his undergraduate experience. However, the most important aspect of the relationship that you have with your chapter is TRUST. The following are principles of establishing trust.
We Trust…

  • An advisor who understands who we are and what we are about
  • An advisor who will help us discover the truth, even if it is uncomfortable
  • An advisor who makes us think
  • An advisor who is accurate
  • An advisor who will create an emotional bond between us and him/her
  • An advisor who believes in their recommendations enough to express themselves with conviction
  • An advisor who will speak our language
  • An advisor who does what they say they are going to do
  • An advisor who cares


  • Listen
  • Be accessible
  • Motivate the brotherhood
  • Encourage the brotherhood
  • Be honest with the brothers
  • Be objective
  • Follow through from your end and hold the chapter accountable from there end
  • Serve as a mentor
  • Realize that the chapter has either changed since your undergraduate experience or the chapter is different from your chapter
  • Facilitate vs. Telling


  • Saying, “when I was in the chapter…” or “at my chapter we did…”
  • Being unprofessional (i.e., gossiping, binge drinking at social events, etc.)
  • Making promises you cannot keep
  • Negative comments or putting the chapter down
  • Being condescending
  • Micromanaging the chapter.

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