CNLP 256: Carly Fiorina on Her Journey from Secretary at a Real Estate Firm to CEO of a Fortune 20 Company to Running for President of the United States

Carly Fiorina has an unlikely journey as a leader. Carly talks how her approach to leadership and problem solving while a secretary at a real estate firm and then low level employee at AT&T eventually prepared her to become CEO of HP and prepared her to run for President of the United States.

Carly talks about the reality associated with being the first woman CEO of a Fortune 100 company, the only female candidate for the Republican nomination as well as the only female Vice-Presidential candidate. She also shares how she learned how to be resilient in the face of intense criticism, without becoming jaded or bitter.

Welcome to Episode 256 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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Carly Fiorina | Facebook | InstagramTwitter

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3 Insights from Carly

1. Managers check boxes, leaders solve problems

A key difference between managers and leaders is that managers do what fits within their job description and nothing else. Leaders often go above and beyond to solve problems and make things happen. If you’re going to lead, you’re going to have to change the order of things for the better, which means you’re going to have to challenge the status quo, color outside the lines and take some risks.

One of the risks is putting yourself in a place to be criticized. Carly sees that there are 2 major types of critics you’ll face in leadership: Those that you will never convert (and honestly don’t want you to succeed) and those that are afraid of or misunderstand you. Steer clear of the first group and learn to work and communicate with the latter.

2. To have good answers, you must ask good questions

Never underestimate the power of a question. The higher up some become in an organization, the more pressured they feel to give answers instead questions. Leaders must resist that pressure. There are times when decisions have to be made that require answers, but there are also times to ask necessary questions so that everyone involved understands what’s really at stake.

If you have no background with whatever product or organization you have been asked to lead, ask questions and learn about the people enough to step in and begin to solve problems. You can’t solve them right away and you can’t solve them alone, especially without asking questions.

3. When you feel like quitting, take a step back before doing something you regret

We all go through discouraging times where we feel like quitting. Sometimes we just have to take the time to work through it. What you can’t do, at a moment when you feel defeated, is something that you can’t take back. You can’t push your chair back, throw your napkin on the table and say I quit because you can’t take that back. You can’t let people see how devastated you are.

Give yourself the time and space to work it out. Hold yourself together and keep yourself under control. Don’t emote. Don’t say the first thing that comes to mind. Get yourself to a space where you can work your way through it, and then choose your next step.

Quotes from Episode 256

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 256

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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You can complete the three-hour course at your own pace. It’s the most comprehensive content I’ve ever created for leaders to help you reclaim HOURS every day so you can become more effective at work and more present at home. When your time, energy, and priorities are all working together for you, it’ll impact everything you do.

  • You become a better leader, because you’re doing what you do best when you’re at your best
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  • You become a better parent, neighbor, and friend, because you actually have time off to relax and engage

These principles will free you to thrive in every area of your life.   

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Next Episode: Tyler Reagin

Tyler Reagin meets thousands of leaders every year through the work he does as President of Catalyst. In this candid interview, he talks about what he’s seeing in today’s leaders, reflects on how he’s had to come to be at peace with his own limitations as a leader and why it’s so essential for every leader to become more self-aware, self-accepting and self-confident in leadership.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 257.

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