Leading Vulnerably

There is a phrase often heard via name-calling retaliation among school yard quarrels. After receiving verbal wounds of an opposition, one might say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

Perhaps this retaliation is meant to soothe the inner being of the offended, when in one’s truth, the words could do more hurt than the “sticks and stones” being tossed about.

Merriam-Webster states that “vulnerable” is derived from the Latin noun vulnus, meaning “wound” and then led to the Latin verb vulnerare, meaning “to wound”. Furthermore, vulnerabillis became “vulnerable” in English in the early 1600s. So, “vulnerable” originally meant “capable of being physically wounded”. 

A Sign of Good Leadership

Understanding what this means in leadership, is perhaps a work in progress. There are appropriate times and places for certain things and when the opportunity presents itself, leading vulnerably has great power.

Some might say it’s a sign of weakness while others would view it as a sign of strength. This perspective can then be determined in how leading vulnerably is acted upon.

So, after tracing some etymology, where is this applicable in the workplace? An “A Player” will see the great power in leading vulnerably. For as it’s a willingness to openly share something deep and personal in hope of helping the one receiving. Therein lies the risk in being “wounded”.

The Watermelon Farmer

There’s a story of a watermelon farmer. As the Farmer walked the field after an early morning storm, he noticed how one of his watermelons was all scared and cut up by the hail. Being quite observant the Farm took quick action making sure the watermelon and vine had plenty of sun, water and protection from pests, viruses and fungi. Soon thereafter came time for harvest. Though the watermelon had been through great difficulty, the Farmer saw it to grow to be the largest in the field. Even as it was scared and damaged from the storm, the watermelon had a story to tell through its experience.

This story was inspired and adapted from a personal story once told out of vulnerability. As being “A Player” leaders in the workplace, experiences, insights and lessons learned provide great power when given vulnerably. Perhaps, it’s the most vulnerable stories that have the greatest impact, return and reward.

As the Farmer recognized the watermelon’s imposition, the actions taken yielded a great reward. Like the Farmer, leading vulnerably opens up the business to become stronger from within when being a gift, shining bright, and leading with love.

From Guest Blogger, Randy Hickman

Randy Hickman is the visual storiest and owner of Penrod Media. Randy has worked with Tap the Potential in capturing content, crafting stories and creating opportunities for more businesses to experience all that Tap the Potential has to offer.  He helps businesses tell their story.


Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series is the founder of Tap the Potential. At Tap the Potential, we work to free business owners from the constant demands of a growing business. We believe work supports life, not the other way around. Through our proprietary Better Business, Better Life™ coaching program, we transform cash-sucking businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then send business owners on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate that accomplishment. After the first year in our program, our clients have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than ever before.

Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses — no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing — and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from strengths. Her latest book, How to Hire the Best: The Contractor’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Employees, is an International Best Seller on Amazon! In this powerful book, Dr. Sabrina shares crucial hiring strategies to transform your small business AND improve your personal life. With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members.
Dr. Sabrina is working on her next books: How to Hire the Best: The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members (available Sept 15) and The 4 Week Vacation: Work Supports Life, Not the Other Way Around (available Dec 1; featuring many of our Trailblazing 4 Week Vacation™ Retreat Participants!)