Rhythm Blog | Cathy McCullough

by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team

9 Reasons Why Annual Planning Matters

Cathy McCullough Tue, May 15, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Leaders frequently ask me about how to build a performance culture focused on personal accountability, employee engagement, and results. According to the research, each of these continues to be a core challenge for a lot of companies. Leaders just want people to do what they need to be doing—and do those things on their own without having to be told (i.e., personal accountability), they want engaged employees (and Gallup’s research continues to show a huge drag here), and leaders want people to help move the company forward—toward results.

To do this, most leaders will still get together for ‘strategic planning.’ It’s a great day of conversation and diving into some tough subjects. Yet, as time passes the plan more or less seems to dissipate into thin air. Everyone simply goes back to doing what they’ve always done—because it’s what they know. 

Strategic vs. Tactical Leaders: Which Are You? [Video]

Cathy McCullough Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

We read a lot these days about leadership (as we should). Leaders find themselves up against a multitude of scenarios and situations, all of which they’re supposed to magically handle in the right way. When you study leadership, you quickly discover the massive complexity that surrounds it. So let’s take just one slice of leadership and dissect it for the purpose of your own reflective thinking about what kind of leader you tend to be (and the pros/cons that surround these tendencies). 

The slice of leadership we’ll look at is the tactical vs. the strategic leader. Both are needed, but when you’re trying to lead a team (or teams) of people toward a common endpoint and/or if you’re trying to grow a company, understanding the differences between these two styles is imperative. Without a sense of understanding around your own leadership tendencies, you can’t move the needle on much of anything.

You Have a Corporate Strategy. So…What’s your Leadership Strategy?

Cathy McCullough Mon, Apr 16, 2018 @ 12:00 PM

CEOs frequently ask me why their corporate strategies for the year falter or just don’t happen. “It’s like no one is listening to me,” said one CEO. He and his leadership team had a great two-day Annual Planning session to do the Strategic Thinking needed for the upcoming year. While their strategy was very good, what was lacking was a corporate culture designed for success in carrying out their expressed strategy.  The more and more I work with organizations, the more I’ve come to see that leadership is a strategy. All in all, how you lead people matters.

Value of Outside Facilitation for Quarterly and Annual Planning

Cathy McCullough Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

Unfortunately, I’ve seen leading companies spend (aka “waste”) time in a one or two-day Annual or Quarterly Planning Session. The time is wasted because once they leave the room, they get back to what’s normal (i.e., they get back to putting out fires on a daily basis). As one CEO recently said to me, “We plan, but we never seem to get very far with implementing our plan.” What’s lost when this happens is not only time but focus, productivity, and discipline.

For this CEO, it was at this point in time when he contacted Rhythm Systems to inquire about having a facilitated onsite session.  The session went really well, and the team commented that it was one of the most productive two days they’d spent together in a very long time.

Getting a Grip on Your Annual Planning Process

Cathy McCullough Tue, Jan 9, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

As you set your strategic priorities for the upcoming year, remember an important distinction: Your “strategic plan” isn’t as important as your “planning process” to get to that plan. An absolute imperative is for you to recognize the business relevance of strategic thinking. Your Annual Plan isn’t just about who’s doing what. Preceding that is what the company aspires to achieve. Strategic thinking is about the company, which puts into context everything else you’re asking people to do in the coming year (especially in the first quarter!). 

5 Steps to Having an Accountability Discussion (Video)

Cathy McCullough Wed, Jan 3, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Most of us just don’t like to have hard conversations. Conversations in which you need someone to hear you can be tough for a number of reasons, but in the end, it’s a leader’s job to have the uncomfortable conversation. You can't build a high performance organization without this leadership skill. Whether you like it or not, you must master having a conversation that gets the point across that you need to see someone do something differently. The secret, then, is doing it in such a way as to build personal accountability (which, if accomplished, will minimize the number of times you have to have the same type of conversation with the same person). 

Growing Accountability in Your Organization

Cathy McCullough Wed, Dec 6, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

In my last blog, “Lack of Accountability is Costing You,” I reviewed the expense that accompanies the lack of accountability. As I noted at the end of that blog, leading a business to higher levels of success is hard work. It’s hard enough to lose money, but it’s even more tragic when you start costing yourself money. There are a lot of reasons to grow accountability in your teams, the most important of which is that it simply makes good business sense. 

Where do you begin your journey toward building higher levels of accountability?

The Value of Strategic Thinking: A More Robust Annual Plan

Cathy McCullough Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Regardless of size, all businesses require strategic thinking to grow. Many leaders consider strategic thinking (and the subsequent execution of their strategic plan) as one of the most challenging leadership tasks. So many times, though, leaders confuse strategic thinking and strategic planning with being tactical and task-oriented. 

While strategic thinking involves these two principles, it is not restricted to them. Rather, strategic thinking is the process of thinking, planning, and doing the work that will lead your company toward your preferred future. 

Bringing Your Annual Plan to Life

Cathy McCullough Sun, Oct 8, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

When we hear of silos, our minds drift to a beautiful landscape where we find tall grain bins built on finely manicured and plowed fields. However, when the word ‘silo’ is used in an organizational context, it isn’t such a beautiful sight. 

When there’s an organizational attitude where one department purposefully or from a lack of will refuses to share information with other departments, you’ll find an overall decrease in organizational efficiency on multiple levels. 

The Business Relevance of Executive Coaching

Cathy McCullough Thu, Sep 21, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

A current executive coachee from one of the three big food distribution companies recently shared with me that one of his colleagues asked him why (on earth) he wanted an executive coach. His response: “Because how else am I going to keep holding myself accountable? If I don’t have someone that keeps me thinking about how I go about doing what it is I do, then my old habits will just creep back in, and I don’t want to go back to where I once was.”

Whatever the domain, whether being a great Olympian, a great orchestra conductor, a great writer: No one is automatically ‘great.’ They all have coaches or mentors that invested heavily with their time and energy to extend their craft into someone hungry to learn it. Greatness is a lot of hard work that consists of relentless (and repetitive) practicing, coupled with direct and many times hard to hear feedback. Greatness at most anything also consists of plenty of failure. Without a coach, there are some athletes that would still be really good, but they wouldn’t be great. I’m convinced that greatness is something that a leader has to aspire to; otherwise, coaching can have impact but that impact will be limited.