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7 Questions on Leadership with Steve Towers

Name: Steve Towers

Title: CEO & founder

Organisation: BP Group

Steve is the founder of the BP Group, the world's first and largest network for BPM and Customer Experience specialists, and serves on the steering committees of several major corporations and advises global leadership teams. He is a start-up investor and a member of the board of directors of several SaaS companies. He has been acknowledged as an inspirational speaker with several Number 1 Best-selling books.

With over 40 years of experience in the private and public sectors, Steve is one of the world's top 30 global CX experts. He has been recognized internationally in the CX, BPM, EA & LSS domains.

He has been awarded the "CX Network Top 50 CX Influencers 2023", "Top 30 Global Guru in CX 2023", "Top 30 Global Guru in Customer Experience 2022", "Top 50 Customer Experience (CX) Influencers 2021", "Top 30 Global Guru in Customer Service 2021", "Global 200 CX Leader 2021", "Top 150 Global CX Thought Leaders 2020", "Global Top 30 Guru in 2020", "Global Customer Service Expert in 2019", "OPEX Global contributor of the year 2018" and inducted into the "Enterprise Architect World Hall of Fame in 2011". In 2007, at Gartner’s Annual summit, he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Business.”

Steve has a proven track record of success in helping businesses & people transform themselves. He is recognised as a sought-after visionary in leading global enterprises. He uses tried-and-tested approaches from the world's top achievers to help you codify your success, happiness & future. With hundreds of excellent testimonials, Steve is the perfect person to help you sort out your customer experience challenges, make it work, understand and plan for it, and succeed.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Steve's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Every situation in life is unique based on the people you are with. Discovering the patterns that work in given situations based on previous experiences, and also those of inspiring mentors, is a lifelong work. I love it and always seek to do the best for those around me.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best and, early in my career, sought guidance and mentorship from those I respected most. Not just in business but in my personal life also. My quest has always been to learn, and in my 20's, I worked with some amazing people who set fine examples for living wholesome good lives on behalf of others. That was my inspiration to one day become that type of person who can 'guide from the rear' and help others achieve their true potential.

My first real leadership role was with a large American bank based in New York, and I quickly learned that 'in theory, theory works, but in practice, it doesn't'. I received help from some dear mentors and friends to help us deliver an amazing global transformation. The lessons learned 40 years ago from my heroes and colleagues are still part of my 'go-to' when needed.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Each day is different depending on the Outcome I want to achieve. Certain patterns work and it is really based on where I am and what I am doing. Self-care is always top of the list, so starting the day with meditation and a little exercise to become anchored is key. If it is to be a day with others I reflect on their needs and our objectives and prepare a plan accordingly. If I am traveling is take time to 'stand and watch the flowers' instead of cramming a schedule with just the logistics. Typically, I travel 400k miles a year, so there is plenty of time for reflection and relaxation. If it is a personal work day for me and loved ones it is about maximising the enjoyment we have with each other to make good memories and achieve the best we can.

At the end of each day I give thanks and wish for healing for others. I try to remember it is a beautiful, crazy world, but our tenure here is not that long!

Make the most of what you can and enjoy every day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Don't assume you have the answers in every situation. My most successful projects are often fraught with time and delivery pressures. Always retain perspective and become fixated on the Outcome you want to deliver and make sure everything you do is aligned to achieving that. And remember open yourself to learning in every situation. Easy to say, hard to do sometimes!

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Charles Handy’s “The Empty Raincoat” is a remarkable book that inspires the reader and offers an impactful alternative perspective on work and existence. Handy delves into a philosophy that transcends the cold, impersonal mechanics of corporate structures and materialistic decisions.

The narrative navigates through a journey of continuity, connection, and purpose. Handy employs the metaphor of an empty raincoat to illustrate the paradox of advancement: if economic growth equates to becoming faceless gears in a colossal machine, then such progress is nothing more than an empty assurance.

Handy probes into various paradoxes of life, encompassing intelligence, work, productivity, time, wealth, organizations, age, individuality, and justice. He proposes that we must adapt to live with these contradictions and dualities, notwithstanding our finite resources.

In essence, “The Empty Raincoat” taught me how to consider the everyday and systemic paradoxes we face in our working lives. Once we understand something, we can act on it.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

I have this as a poster and ask myself every day how well did I do? How will I put these things into practice tomorrow and next week? Make a plan for each and live it - you will then manifest the spirit of the leader within.

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.” - Criss Jami, musician for the metal project Crymson Gryphon.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

In the early 2000s in Boston, I was leading a group of talented people, each of us united by a shared vision to launch a tech startup specializing in process management.

We got it going and eventually convinced a VC from Silicon Valley to come have a look with a view to investment. The team was excited and also nervous. We had never pitched for such a large investment, and the stress to meet expectations was very real.

I tried to stay calm. We got the team together and I reassured them, “We have the talent and the resources. All we need is to collaborate and stay true to our desired Successful Outcome.”

I then assigned tasks to each member of the team, thinking about their strengths and aptitudes. We had product development, marketing, testing and customer service.

Over the next seven weeks, we applied ourselves to the task in hand. I tried not to dictate or manage. Instead, we worked as a team, each using our own skills. I offered occasional assistance and guidance as needed.

After two months, the day arrived when our product was ready for launch. The VC (and now his colleagues) were surprised by the quality of the solution. It worked! He decided to increase his investment.

We celebrated, and the team thanked me for my great leadership. I had to smile and remind them, “I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. We pulled together, each of us helping in our own specific way. That’s how I feel leadership should be.”

This style is called ‘invisible leadership’. A great quote from one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela, says it all “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."

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