Jump to content
Nicolai Tillisch

Nicolai Tillisch

Copenhagen, Denmark

Three ideas that Nicolai finds pivotal for leaders are: (1) adults can grow, and this is an essential factor in how we relate to ourselves, each other, and our surroundings; (2) leaders’ real-life challenges demand them to grow while offering a fruitful context for doing so; and (3) the complexity around us requires us to sense and think differently than the traditional linear way. Nicolai was introduced to variations of these ideas early in his career and experienced their power and necessity as an executive. While Nicolai emphasizes the significance of recent scientific research and practical experience, he whole-heartedly shares his colleagues’ compassion, curiosity, and humor.

Nicolai supports leaders at ambitious corporations and ventures. He works with clients across Europe, North America, and Asia, and primarily within technology, sustainability, healthcare, finance, and professional services. His focus is on designing and conducting tailor-made interventions with leaders. That work ranges from one-on-one coaching processes with executives to journeys with management teams and boards of directors, to large-scale organizational transformations. He believes in working closely with his clients and colleagues to understand each unique context and its possibilities. Nicolai first undertook training in coaching in 1997, and it has been his profession since 2011. He has multiple accreditations from the International Coach Federation, including Growth Edge Coaching.

Nicolai also takes steps toward a vision of democratizing developmental methods, which has manifested in various collaborations. Nicolai has co-authored, with Nicolai Chen Nielsen, Return on Ambition: A Radical Approach to Your Achievement, Growth, and Well-Being. Fast Company Press released this bestselling book in 2021, where it was amongst the five finalists for getAbstracts International Book Award. He is a co-founder of Deliberate Development, a Stockholm-based software venture, together with Stefan Falk. Its StepUpYourDay platform supports people’s self-reflection and generates insightful data. Nicolai is a board member of Nordic Bildung, a think tank associated with the philosopher Lene Rachel Andersen

Nicolai’s experience has evolved on a zigzag path between the traditional left-brain and right-brain spheres. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at the University of Copenhagen, he joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant, leaving to work at a series of corporate ventures, including the advertising network DDB Worldwide, Hutchison’s mobile operator 3, and what became Nokia Siemens Networks. After his corporate career, Nicolai gained the exclusive license for The Leadership Circle in the Middle East and North Africa and built the business there from 2015 to 2020.

Beyond deeply appreciating the immense privilege of working with his extraordinary colleagues and clients, Nicolai’s heart is first of all with his family. They enjoy many friends, the beauty of nature, and travelling. They have recently moved to his native Copenhagen in Denmark, after living abroad since the mid-00s.


I would never like to be without my conversations with Nicolai. He has helped me to understand new dimensions in myself. It's great that he has such a good sense of my world. His wise questions help me to step up both as a leader and a person.

The founder and CEO of a fast growing, international tech startup