Being right v. Getting it right

A couple of months ago, Stephen L. Guinn, Ph.D. and Gary A. Williamson, Ph.D., posted an article on entitled “Eight Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers.”  Most of us would like to be thought of as effective critical thinkers, so what are the eight habits?

  • Habit #1: They are more concerned about getting it right than about being right.
  • Habit #2: They avoid jumping to conclusions and rushing to judgment.
  • Habit #3: They do not accept information at face value.
  • Habit #4: They avoid over-analysis that leads to paralysis in decision-making.
  • Habit #5: They are continuous learners and work to stay well-informed.
  • Habit #6: They show flexibility in their willingness to consider alternative ideas and opinions.
  • Habit #7: They use critical thinking on themselves.
  • Habit #8: They have a distinctive behavioral style.

All of these habits are important, and most of us have seen these habits observed and violated during our careers.

On reading this article, I was struck in particular by Habit #1: Worrying more about getting it right than being right.

How many times have we seen leaders fail to change course when presented with new information, primarily because they don’t want to look stupid?  Or acting without the information they need, because they don’t want to admit they don’t have the information?  In fact, it is a fiduciary responsibility of leaders to act in the best interest of their organization, not of themselves.

Unfortunately, it is a human tendency to act in our own best interest.

Have you ever been guilty of worrying more about being right than getting it right?

Which of the other habits do you think are particularly important?

Please leave a comment.



Filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management

2 responses to “Being right v. Getting it right

  1. Sara,

    This blog hit my sweet spot. I have asked people to practice critical thinking after I receive forwarded email that on the face are blatantly incorrect. I sent out the following to my frequent email list.

    “Do you know anyone who just passes emails along when they receive them? Do they give the excuse that they don’t have time to check everything so they shove it back into the Ether to all their friends and acquaintances?

    That’s Internet Gossip. The fishwives in the market love to just pass on juice tidbits without checking their facts. If it fits their preconceived notions of the world, they spread the gossip – particularly if it is hurtful to people they don’t like.

    I ran across an interesting blog, below, on Critical Thinking. You might suggest to Internet Gossips you know to at least practice some critical thinking, even if they don’t have time to research what they receive before they spread rumors.”

    Your blog follows.

  2. Thanks, C.M. One of the things I've tried to do in re-tweeting in particular has been to read the linked material before forwarding. Do I agree with it or not? Critical thinking is important before we lend our support. See Habit 3.

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