A number of studies conducted in Canada and the United States asked a politically diverse, well-educated group of adults to read arguments confirming their beliefs (and perhaps their biases) about controversial issues. Participants were then given a chance to read contrary arguments—and get paid for doing so. However, two-thirds refused to even look at the counterarguments, never mind seriously considering them.

Researchers concluded that the more scientifically literate adults are, the more likely it is that they become dogmatic about politically polarizing topics in science. Put another way, the more intellectual someone might be, the better they know how to find evidence to confirm their feelings. How sad that in a world that clamors for diversity, too many are afraid to even hear an idea or thought that might differ from their own.

Perhaps you swim in everyday waters where confirmation bias is alive and well. But is that really what our world needs today—people not listening to others or considering other ideas, new ways of doing things, or different points of view? Are people so afraid that their convictions, beliefs, ideas, or thoughts won’t survive even the softest of scrutiny or the most innocent of inquiry?

The doctoral mindset

One essential hallmark of doctoral students or those who hold terminal degrees is their ability to see things—people, issues, contexts—from multiple perspectives. In our complex, global world today, the challenges and obstacles that leaders face are complex and comprehensive.

One quick, soundbite answer won’t solve them. That’s why the very best literature reviews in dissertations show evidence of a doctoral student analyzing an issue from all sides. They suspend their biases and aren’t afraid to look under the microscope or hood. Then they research and experiment. Doctoral students don’t hide or ignore the evidence that doesn’t fit their preconceived notions. They also listen and ponder. Finally, they question their own convictions and thoughts while practicing healthy skepticism for other ideas. In short, doctors do their homework.

The 360-degree perspective

Effective leaders today must be able to examine and analyze societal and organizational challenges from all sides and angles—a 360-degree perspective. Only then can they provide the direction and leadership that will solve the problem or advance the cause.

Of course, looking at things from a 360 perspective doesn’t mean you will abandon the truth. As a Christian institution, we find comfort in the words of the Bible—that the “testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Concordia University Wisconsin’s doctoral program of Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement will train and equip you to do just that—to lead and think with a 360-degree mindset. This mindset and skill set are critical to the growth, development, and success of any leader or organization. So earn your Doctor of Education at CUW, and think differently.