Leading Vulnerably (Part 1)


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.


About The Author

Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist and international best-selling author of the How to Hire the Best series and The 4 Week Vacation™, is the founder of Tap the Potential and host of the Profit by Design podcast. 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. Clients in our Better Business, Better Life coaching program have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than they’ve ever had. Next, we send them off on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate their hard-earned journey to take their life back!

Dr. Sabrina and her team at Tap the Potential are on a mission to change the story of entrepreneurship from one of long hours, grinding it out, to one of sustainably profitable businesses that support and enhance life. The Tap the Potential Solution™ and our Tap the Potential Family of Business Owners are disrupting small business as usual. We are on our way to making the Tap the Potential Solution™ the mainstream model for growing business.

By 2023, 150 Tap the Potential clients will have taken 4 Week Vacations. These are the trailblazers, role modeling what’s possible for entrepreneurs. In many entrepreneurial circles, it is becoming more and more common for one entrepreneur to ask another, “Have you taken a 4 Week Vacation™?” (as opposed to asking “How many employees do you have?” or “What is your annual revenue?”). Taking a fully unplugged 4 Week Vacation is rapidly becoming the recognized symbol of entrepreneurial success.

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.

As The Business Psychologist, and with her years of driving profit in small businesses, Dr. Sabrina knows what it takes to find, keep, and motivate exceptional performance out of your biggest investment—team members.