Carly Fiorina: “Leaders are Made, not Born”

“Do not let the people who will tear you down get in your head. There are people will lift you up. Spend your time with them.” – Carly Fiorina

It is a common misconception that leaders are born, and occasionally made. However, at the Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Dallas, Texas, Carly Fiorina spoke on leadership and she firmly taught that leaders are made, not born.

She spoke on the uniqueness of America and how we were founded on ideas, not on tribe. In fact, we are the only country in history to be founded on ideas, and we are living in a nation that sees possibilities in every one of its citizens.

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Fiorina stated, “Position and power do not make a leader.” Leadership has nothing to do with position or how much power you hold. Many people look to those with the power, wealth, or fame and they lift them up as icons. However, more often than not, those people being lifted up do not have the qualities of a leader.

 “Sometimes people ask me how I went from being a secretary to a being a CEO?” she continued, “Someone saw possibilities in me.” –Carly Fiorina

She went on to talk about the difference in managers and leaders. She said, “Leadership is not the same as management. Managers accept the restraints around them….they accept the status quo and manage around it.” Fiorina continued, “Leaders do not accept restraints. Leaders challenge the status quo.”


The status quo is an incredibly powerful force that allows problem to fester. However, many people do not work to change anything because they are invested in it. They are comfortable in their ways, even if it is exactly what is breeding their problems. This is why “the status quo Is powerful.” Fiorina said, “Everyone talks about what’s wrong but it never changes. To challenge the status quo, you’ve got to have a lot of guts The challenge of that price is criticism but the payoff is problem solve.” She continued, “A leader challenges the status quo to solve problems. The highest calling of a leader is to serve…to unlock potential in others”


Here are the qualities that Carly went through and explained to the large crowd of girls at the TPUSA and NRA endorsed event. 

“Leaders are made, not born”

  1. “Leadership takes courage. You have to be brave.”
    1. Anytime a leader goes up against that powerful status quo, you will be criticized.
    2. We are living in an era where criticism is on steroids
    3. What people say about you does not define you, your choices define you
    4. You have to be willing to make a mistake
    5. Progress is more impactful than perfection
    6. Substantial change always produces substantial resistance
  2. Leadership takes character
    1. Sometimes a short time win is a long time loss
  3. Leadership takes collaboration
    1. It doesn’t always happen with people just like us
    2. To solve a real problem, you must collaborate with different people with the same problem. Some who are like us and some who aren’t like us.
    3. Do what is required to solve the problem without sacrificing your principles
  4. Leadership takes humility
    1. You don’t have all the answers
    2. You will make a mistake
    3. You will need help
  5. Leadership takes empathy
    1. You actually see someone else, and the possibilities in them
  6. “The most important thing about a leader is that a leader sees possibilities.”
    1. Don’t look at circumstances and see limitations
    2. Look at the situation and say “But we could do this, we could do that, nobody has tried that”
    3. Equal parts of realism and optimism

She wrapped up with one last pop of encouragement. “That, ladies, is the essence of leadership. Those are human qualities. They are not male or female qualities. They aren’t given to a chose few.”

Carly said, “It is true, leaders are made, not born. It is in the toughest times, and I can say this with certainty and experiences, that in the tough times is when the greatest of gifts will come.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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