Where Do You Lead Being Dogmatic, Pragmatic, or Undoctrinaire?

Brad G. Philbrick
3 min readSep 22, 2020



Reading a quotation from Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician and one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital induced me to ponder immensely. He stated, “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.”

When exposed to an environment where the rules are stringent, the process has no flexibility, and the mandates are bountiful, it is a dedication to ignorance.

The dogmatic manager in his hard thinking, demanding instruction, dictatorial management displays his ignorance, fears, and his limited abilities. The opposite of faith is not doubt, but fear. And it is dogmatism that is synonymous with fear and ignorance.

The pragmatic individual is down to earth, realistic, business-like, practical, sensible, and efficient. Thinking things through in a logical manner is a standard model for the pragmatic.

What would the opposite of dogmatic be? It is interesting that there is no term for being undogmatic, it is just undogmatic. Consensus building, seeking harmony, questioning, yielding, equivocal, and flexible are adjectives that come to mind when describing the undoctrinaire.

The healthcare industry is the most regulated industry in the world. The reasons why are obvious, patients ingesting chemicals (we call them drugs), exposed to instrumentation, and their bodies being surgically operated on; regulations and policies assuring safety is paramount. Frankly, a person’s life is often at stake.

For Sir William Osler, did rules and a dictatorial leadership team hold him back? Did colleagues’ ignorance and pure doctrines hinder his ideas and goals? Did creativity, the sharing of ideas, and the desire for research get sidelined?

Surely, we need rules, a set of policies for an organization, and a standard protocol for which to follow at one’s place of work. Leadership should not, however, be a dictatorship, micromanage, and captain the ship like a raging tyrant. Those businesses that run this way are failing, retail especially comes to mind.

Is it possible then to have a place for dogmatic leadership? If an authoritarian leader insists on creativity, collaboration, and brainstorming as part of the doctrine and the work environment, will the organization flourish, or one that flounders due to the feelings resulted in an iron clad leader?

Organizations that utilize committees, user groups, and provide funding to attend conferences, symposiums, and webinars to learn and share new ideas, new products, and new procedures are the organizations that will survive and thrive. Leadership that promotes thought, thinking and requests ideas will maintain a high level of success.



Brad G. Philbrick

Brad earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.