Hillier Hopkins – Inspiring women leaders: Nicole Soames

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International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme, #breakthebias, looks to raise awareness of bias and take action to forge women’s equality.

This year, we want to inspire and encourage women across our profession and in our client organisations.

We will, under our Inspiring women leaders series, interview and profile some of our clients, celebrating their achievements, sharing their stories, and inspiring others to achieve the very best they can in the workplace.

Whilst these interviews will focus on International Women’s Day (8 March) they will continue throughout 2022. Do please share these stories and do get in touch if you would like to share your own experiences.

#BreakingtheBias – Nicole Soames – inspirational author, leader and trainer

Diadem Performance is one of the UK’s foremost training companies. Taking inspiration from the world of sport, its trainers help business executives better understand the soft skills needed to achieve their commercial and personal best.

Led by CEO Nicole Soames, inspirational author, leader and trainer, Diadem Performance works with “start-ups to grown-ups”. She tells Hillier Hopkins why leaders now more so than ever need greater empathy and emotional intelligence.

“Commercial soft skills are such an interesting area for development,” explains Nicole. “People may think they are soft and fluffy, but they are incredibly hard to learn. Whilst people are the diamonds in an organisation, they need to be polished to show off their best.”

Nicole and her team of coaches looks to create “commercial athletes”, drawing from the world of sportsmen and women where personal investment, agility and the recognition that “you will not win every game” creates incredible resilience and a mindset of continuous improvement.

“Business leaders who aspire to be at the top of their game need to adopt the same approach,” explains Nicole. “They need to train, to be supported and keep working on their learning.”

Nicole founded Diadem Performance in 2009 in the midst of a global recession, finding that when times are tough you need the best people inside an organisation to weather the storm. Developing emotional intelligence, the ability to understand the emotions that drives behaviour, is the key to unlocking better individual performance.

Starting her career in sales for global consumer businesses, Diadem Performance was born out of the desire to correct “everything that is wrong about workplace training”.

“Training was either theoretical, led by clever people but with no customer experience, or by explainers, sharing what they did,” says Nicole. “I knew I could do better. I want people to be inspired to take responsibility for themselves.”

Today, Diadem Performance is phenomenally successful, with Nicole flown around the world to deliver training to business leaders and executives at some of the world’s largest commercial organisations alongside smaller, entrepreneurial businesses.

Life is not a dress rehearsal

Nicole is a strong advocate for anyone wanting to start their own business.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal and happiness is loving what you do and who you do it with,” says Nicole. “If you are not happy, do something about it. Stop moaning, work out what bothering you and act.”

It does take bravery to quit a stable job and “pull the rip cord,” but says Nicole “if you are good at something, good is good enough to start a business”. The only way to learn the skills needed is to have a go.

And whilst bias continues to remain prevalent in the workplace and will be a challenge for women, Nicole does not see her success as taking on men at their own game.

“I did not set out to prove we can cut it against male colleagues – I just wanted to be the very best I could be,” explains Nicole.

Inspiring role model

Nicole’s success in the training landscape now sees her recognised as a role model for both men and women in the workplace – and to her teenage daughters – yet she recognises that there is still quite a mountain for many women to climb in the workplace.

“The global pandemic has not helped,” says Nicole. “Being stuck at home and home schooling whilst working is not easy and it has largely fallen onto the shoulders of the female parent. It does feel like we have gone backwards.”

And whilst there is greater support for women in the workplace it remains a challenge. The journey towards a bias free, equal working environment remains.

“But,” says Nicole, “the right amount of challenge and competitiveness is a good thing in driving change.”

Learn more by visiting https://diademperformance.com/ or www.nicolesoamesbooks.com

You can buy all of Nicole’s books on Amazon and in other good bookstores.