For QESBA to successfully resist attempts to eliminate elected Trustees, its member Boards need to find the ability to be respectfully collegial while at the same time promoting vigorous public debate and disagreement on issues
Please complete this questionnaire by Saturday May 18
It is pretty obvious that harsh and constant disagreement between members of any group diminishes both its effectiveness and reputation.
It may be less obvious that excessive collegiality among a group’s members can have the same effect, as people hesitate to speak their mind out of concern that they might offend someone. When there is too much “agreeableness” there is great danger that plans come out half-baked, and innovative ideas are stifled. At times of rapid change and unexpected challenges, “group-think” and “steady-as-she-goes” leave the field open for those with more dramatic voices to set the agenda – even if their ideas are dangerously wrong-headed.
An overly “collegial” school board fades into the background. An overly “disagreeable” school board is unable to develop a meaningful collective strategy. The first type is seen as irrelevant. The second type is seen as “dysfunctional”. Neither type earns much public support, even if they actually contribute to student well-being and achievement in their schools.
The goal of this workshop is to find ways to promote “Collegially Disagreeable” board cultures that inspire public confidence and respect.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of the workshop, it would help me to have an idea of how the workshop participants feel about disagreeing with others and how they view the way their boards handle differences of opinion. The 2 part questionnaire that I’m asking you to complete should take a total of about 10 minutes.
Part 1: The Agreeableness Test
“Agreeableness” is one of the standard 5 big personality traits that have the mnemonic acronym CANOE (Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness, Extroversion).
Agreeableness itself is measured using scores in 6 domains or facets:
Trust, Morality, & Cooperation;Sympathy, Altruism, & Modesty.
I’ve looked at a number of on-line personality tests. The one I’m asking you to do was developed by Dr. John Johnson of Penn State University. It took only a few minutes to complete and I thought that it’s results for me were pretty accurate.
(I came across the concept of “disagreeableness” via a highly entertaining and thought-provoking analysis of when a coach should “pull the goalie” in a hockey game on this episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast.)
Part 2: Board Cohesion & Deference
Much like individuals, groups have unique “personalities” – internal dynamics that drive behaviour.
It is my experience that groups that achieve Collegial Disagreeability strongly exhibit the “Cohesion” facets of Trust, Morality, and Cooperation. At the same time they show only moderate levels of the “Deference” facets of Sympathy, Altruism, and Modesty which tend to inhibit debate. (Extroversion and Conscientiousness are also critically important to publicly demonstrate the value of a school board, but I have found that both these traits are in ample supply.)
I have developed a short questionnaire that will give some insight into the way the participants’ boards behave.
Together, the Agreeableness Test and the Cohesion & Deference questionnaire will help us kick-start the discussion on how to increase the “Collegial Disagreeability” of QESBA boards, which in turn should aid in increasing the public’s perception of the value of elected school boards.
- Click on the “Agreeableness test” button below. The CANOE test questionnaire will open in a new tab.
- When you have completed the test, enter the scores for overall “Agreeableness” along with the scores for the 6 underlying facets into the form below.
- Enter your opinion of the tests accuracy and your role
- Click the SUBMIT button.
- This will take you directly to the “Cohesion & Deference” questionnaire.
Your answers in this section will not be connected in any way to any personal identification that you choose to may enter in the other part of the questionnaire for this workshop.
***** NOTE: If after you submit the “Agreeableness” results you weren’t able to complete the “Cohesion & Deference” questionnaire:
- come back to this page when you have the time
- do not retake the CANOE test
- do not re-submit your “Agreeableness” results
- click on the link directly below the “SUBMIT” button which will take you directly to the “Cohesion & Deference” questionnaire.)
Click here, if you have already SUBMITTED your “Agreeableness” results, but haven’t yet completed the “Cohesion & Deference” questionnaire.