Nicole M. Heimann: Driving Innovation Through Sustainable Leadership Alliances

Nicole Heimann is an award-winning Executive Coach & Advisor and Executive Team Coach. She is the author of “How to Develop the Authentic Leader in You – Integrating the Seven Dimensions of Leadership Intelligence”, a successful book on leadership. She is also a keynote speaker on Elevating Consciousness through Authentic Leadership, and is the founder and co-CEO of Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners AG, a Boutique Executive Advisory firm based in Zurich. The firm specializes in authentic leadership, and focuses on transforming organizations by building strong and genuine leadership alliances among executives.  


Delivering High-Quality and Tailored Executive Coaching 

Leadership alliances are authentic, intentional and committed relationships between the board, CEO and executive team members of an organization. Nicole and her partner Marina Cvetkovic work on cultivating these relationships to ensure a shared purpose, alignment around a compelling vision, as well as consciously-chosen mindsets, leadership alliance behaviours and working together principles. Their coaching services are uniquely diverse and include Executive Coaching, Executive Transition Coaching, Executive Team Coaching, C-Suite and Board Effectiveness as well as dynamic keynotes and speaking engagements for corporate and leadership conferences.

When it comes to executive coaching, Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners AG’s clients aren’t looking for a “mass” approach. They value the company for its highly personalized approach, tailored specifically to each leader in order to foster the culture they would like to establish in their companies. In understanding the distinct needs of each client, Nicole and her partner Marina are driven to employ innovative concepts and learning journeys. As experts in experiential learning, sustainable change is at the heart of their method. To do so, Nicole and Marina ensure that authenticity, simplicity, deep shifts, high awareness and good timing are at the heart of their work. This allows for new habits to be built and creates the necessary conditions for creating new neurological pathways.


The Future of Business Relies on Authentic Leadership

Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners AG’s vision is to contribute to a better world by working with boards, CEOs and executive teams on strong and authentic Leadership Alliances. The company believes the purpose of authentic leadership is elevating consciousness. Decisions made at a higher level of consciousness have a greater degree of integrity, ethics and a greater sense of responsibility. That is why, to create a more sustainable world, Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners AG needs more authentic leaders at the top of organisations.

At Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners, Nicole and her partner implement shared and servant leadership themselves. “We are growing and scaling our purpose-driven business through working together as a Leadership Alliance ourselves, and serve our clients through building strong and authentic Leadership Alliance cultures,” she says.


Navigating Challenges with a Positive Mindset 

Nicole started her business on a completely blank slate. She was in a new country with no established network or experience in the industry. Her biggest challenge was to find the first client willing to grant her a global assignment. She knew she would be successful as she was determined, focused and patient, although this was challenging at times. It took her 18 months to get her first big contract at a global level, for which she worked on transformation in 30 countries. After the first big win, many other global clients followed suit. “Once you have won the first great client and can speak from experience,” Nicole says, “it gets a lot easier. Success builds on success. To get that first big client takes resilience, determination, a positive mindset and lots of ‘no’s’.” Nicole believes that, rather than falling in love with products or services, it’s best to “fall in love” with potential clients.


Leading the Change to Achieve Success

One of the experiences that shaped Nicole’s success journey was in 1997, when she gave up her position as Key Account Manager in a chemicals industry company. She had just had her first child and moved from Belgium to Switzerland. She was used to travelling, working on exciting projects, but found herself facing a new reality. “I wasn’t [doing that] anymore. I had become the wife of…, the mom of… But who was I?” she explains. This new awareness triggered a soul-searching process, and Nicole realized that she no longer wanted to be reduced to a title or a role. She decided that in every moment, she had the freedom to re-invent herself. So that’s what she did. “Follow your vision,” she says, “being a woman is not a restriction!”

In Belgium, Nicole saw how common it was for women to be working mothers. In Switzerland, things were different. She says it surprised her when she was stigmatized and called a “raven mother” for wanting to have a career. She never allowed this to influence her, nor did she want the fact of being a woman to be a restriction. She followed her intuition, her purpose, and stuck to her vision. “That is enough,” she says, “Everything else is hard work to make it happen. It doesn’t matter whether we are a man or a woman.”


The Power of Saying “Yes”

When Nicole was asked to be the biographer in “The Earned Life”, a feature-length documentary about the legacy of Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s #1 Leadership Thinker, she was thrilled. She immediately said yes without knowing how this experience would shape her, even though she knew it would.

Working on the film with Marshall was a steep learning curve for Nicole. While her business was already very successful, another breakthrough happened. “Marshall encouraged me to step up in a bigger way and made me realize that my humility was working against me. True humility doesn’t keep us small or invisible. I discovered my way to communicate my message to the world, as a woman, true to myself, with humility and freedom,” Nicole explains.

Today, Nicole is part of the world’s leading executive coaches group “100Coaches” initiated by Marshall Goldsmith. Just this year, she has been selected as one of the 15 World Class Mentors 2021, and became part of the IFLD (International Federation of Learning and Development) Hall of Fame. In 2020, she was nominated as one of the Top 20 Learning Professionals worldwide by the IFLD. In 2019, was granted the Leading Global Coach Award by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith at the Thinkers 50 in London.


Distinct Qualities of Transformational Leadership

Nicole believes that a transformational leader is a visionary, purposeful leader. They inspire others through their presence, they lead and drive change with a high awareness of the impact on their organizations and beyond, i.e., the environment, ecosystems and future generations. They know how to get everyone on board and mobilize their organization on this journey.

For Nicole, a truly transformational leader needs to continuously develop and expand authenticity. Authentic Leadership means having the openness, the willingness, and the courage to persistently evolve into the next best version of oneself through reflection, openness to feedback, and new actions.

The more a leader develops their authenticity,

  • the less they will lead from their ego.
  • the more they will lead with integrity and choose to do “the right thing.”
  • the more they will lead with an awareness that everything is connected.
  • the more they will be connected to their inner wisdom, creativity and deep trust.
  • the more they will be open, curious and create from others.
  • the more they will be able to work with polarities, realizing they are not opposites but parts of one bigger reality.
  • the more they will be comfortable with not knowing as they knows themselves, and that is enough.

A transformational leader is a leader who elevates consciousness through their presence and leaves a legacy for their organizations and the generations to come.


Advice to the Young Minds of Tomorrow 

Nicole always looks at every reality from a different perspective. She advises emerging women leaders to choose and believe in the perspective that empowers them. A leader is a leader, regardless of gender. Build a strong network and connect to a peer group that wants a person to be successful. She believes that a person must surround themselves with people who believe in them, who want them to be successful and who challenge them to raise the bar. In return, give others the permission to play full out in just the same way.

Nicole’s words of advice are: “Invest in yourself, your continuous development and your inner growth. Be resilient, keep a positive mindset, don’t take a “no” personally and move on.”