How Curiosity is the Answer for Arrogance

The risk of self-development is getting sucked into your self when leadership is actually about serving others.

Above all, humility is a practice that centers on serving others.


The risk of self-development is best seen in the context of humility.

Once you attain humility, you lose it.


I noticed that the Arbinger Institute’s latest book didn’t have authors listed. When I spoke with Mitchell Warner, a Managing Partner and Senior Consultant of the Arbinger Institute, I asked him why.

Mitchell said, among other things, that we wanted to focus the book on the content and the reader, not the authors. In addition, we want to build an organization that outlives any authors. He said, “Everyone is critical.”


I asked Mitchell to talk about humility.

Humility is, “An intense curiosity about others.” If you want to be humble, stay curious about people. The seduction of providing answers often short-circuits curiosity.

Arrogance needs to give answers. Humility stays curious.

Mitchell said that the leaders he admires are intensely curious.

Space for humility:

#1. Take time to learn about people.

  1. What are your challenges?
  2. What are you trying to achieve?
  3. What’s important to you?

#2. Consider your impact on others, not just results.

  1. What is it like for others, when they sit across the table from you?
  2. Who are the stakeholders?
  3. How might stakeholders be impacted by this project?
  4. What’s life like for the people around you?

Humble leaders focus on their impact on others.

#3. Embrace the idea that others count the way you count. (Mitchell used this phrase several times.)

#4. Explore your impact on others after taking action.

Mitchell Warner in his own words: 

Outward mindset – S.A.M.:

  1. See others.
  2. Adjust behaviors.
  3. Measure impact.

How might leaders develop and display humility?

This post is based on my interview with Mitchell Warner of the Arbinger Institute.

Purchase: The Outward Mindset – Seeing Beyond Ourselves

The Outward Mindset in a nutshell: