Nicole Heimann & Marina Cvetkovic: Empowering leaders build great businesses
Nicole Heimann & Marina Cvetkovic
The best thing you can do today to grow your business, expand your market, services or just flourish as an executive is to network and build legitimate connections to support your cause. In simple words, the bigger the network gets, the more impact one can make. It also allows business leaders to get out of their vacuum of thoughts and find fresh ideas, new perspectives, and sometimes even a better way to take their ambition forward.
In this feature, we present you Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners, the world’s leading experts in leadership alliances, founded by Nicole Heimann and Marina Cvetkovic who strive to support senior leaders and management teams in fulfilling their mission by leading authentically and creating meaningful alliances on the way. They help them find their drive both individually and together as a team and concur on the most effective way to accomplish company objectives.
To learn more about their mission and how they are helping the world leaders shape a new future for us, we sat down with Nicole Heimann and Marina Cvetkovic, the Co-CEO’s at Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners, both multi award-winning Executive & Team Coaches, sought after keynote speakers, members of the prestigious “100Coaches” founded by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. Nicole is also the author of the successful leadership book “How to Develop the Authentic Leader in You”. Here’s what they shared with us on their philosophy and the true impact of the work that they do:
“Most leadership teams and boards we work with would agree with the vision of creating a true partnership, however, almost all of them struggle with how to do that. This is why our company, Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners, focuses on helping boards and management teams across the globe create strong leadership alliances”
“Let’s work together to build successful leadership alliances”
What makes their approach rather unique is, among other elements, how they view the importance of the top team leadership for the culture of the whole organization.
“We believe that the culture of every organization starts at the top, and should therefore be something that is a matter of highest strategic importance. Just because a senior leadership team or a board is a collection of highly successful individuals - this does not make a highly effective team. Top team effectiveness and a true leadership alliance is something that does not just happen organically - no matter how successful the individual leaders that make the team are. It takes a high collective awareness to build a true leadership alliance and unfortunately, seniority and success are not indicators that one’s self-awareness is at a peak,” Nicole shared with us.
“What makes our concept different, is how holistic it is. We don’t just focus only on the vision, or team norms, or culture. We look at all of those factors holistically, help a management team identify where they are today vs. where they would like to be, and then take them on that journey as their sparring partners. Our Leadership Alliance Culture signature concept for accelerating performance and alignment in top teams has been endorsed by Alan Mullaly, the former CEO of Ford Motors Company, and many other C-suite members across the globe,” Marina added.
Redefining the role of Board
When it comes to top-team leadership, Marina and Nicole’s work particularly focuses on the collaboration between the board and the executive team.
“The role of the board has changed significantly over the past decade and even more so over the past year. Increasingly, boards are asked and challenged to be a true strategic asset to organizations, moving past the outdated mandate rooted purely in governance and oversight. This poses a question: What is the optimal way in which management teams and boards should work together going forward to successfully master the emerging business challenges?” Marina noted.
“Most leadership teams and boards we work with would agree with the vision of creating a true partnership, however, almost all of them struggle with how to do that. This is why our company, Heimann Cvetkovic & Partners, focuses on helping boards and management teams across the globe create strong leadership alliances,” Nicole added.
The role of the board has changed significantly over the past decade and even more so over the past year. Increasingly, boards are asked and challenged to be a true strategic asset to organizations, moving past the outdated mandate rooted purely in governance and oversight.
Breaking all stereotypes as Female Leaders
Interestingly, it is the influence of the dads of both Nicole and Marina that had a strong impact on who they became.
Nicole shared with us the following, “My dad had a big influence on my life. He was more of a silent leader with a very strong loving and positive presence. He always referred to his grandmother who told him with absolute conviction that ‘a Heimann can achieve anything and that ‘there are no limits for a Heimann!’ These words of my grand-grandmother whom I have never known, meant so much to me and became part of my being. So, from very early on in my life, I became aware that people have different views of the world and I also realized how our mindset and what we believe in drives our decisions and actions. Even if back then, I would not have said it with these words, I realized that it was up to me to create my own reality. Believing that I would be worthless because I am a woman or have fewer opportunities was never an option I considered.”
Marina’s journey was also influenced by her father figure. She says, “My blessing was that my father was a successful executive and entrepreneur. He would share stories with me from a very young age: on his latest business challenges and successes, bringing the idea of big, bold dreams becoming a reality, closer to my heart. By the time I was 20, I felt like I can conquer the world! More importantly, I believe the notion that I can achieve the same and more than my dad was very important that early on. So, I never really bought into the narrative that I’ll be disadvantaged as a woman – my father’s story and philosophy is much stronger in me than that.”
Nicole added, “I believe the entrepreneurial journey is one of creation and growing into the next best version of ourselves. This takes a strong vision, clarity of purpose, courage, hard work, persistence, and discipline. My gender as a leader was indeed questioned when I moved to Switzerland back in 1997. In Belgium, it is common for women to be working mothers. In Switzerland, things were different. Even if I was stigmatized and called a “raven mother” for wanting to have a career, I never allowed this to influence me, nor did I want the fact of being a woman to be a restriction.”
Maneuvering leadership in a unique way
We were of course very curious to understand – are Nicole and Marina walking the talk in the way they lead their own company?
Marina explained, “Walking the talk is very important to Nicole and me– as we are advocates of stronger leadership alliances at the top, we of course have a leadership alliance of our own, reflected in the Co-CEO title, which we both share. We are both very challenging with our clients and go deep in different ways; Nicole comes with a calm, warm Zen energy, very much focused on the person, and I with a calm, but always assertive and strategically focused tone. We share the same mission and vision about the impact we strive to have on the executives and leadership teams we work with. On that journey, we not only fully respect each other’s differences and freedom, but we strive to actively leverage them for the benefit of our alliance and in the interest of allowing each other to stay in our individual “Zone of Genius”.
“Last but not least – our leadership alliance is only successful because we can rise above the ego and fully allow the magical co-creative process together to evolve for the benefit of our clients and the higher purpose, we both care about. We support each other’s values, love each other’s differences and allow each other to grow and flourish more every day. That might mean that one of us takes the stage and the other one stays backstage at times – and we are perfectly fine with that!” Nicole added.