Rhythm Blog | Cathy McCullough

by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team

Do You Have An Accountability Problem? [Assessment]

Cathy McCullough Thu, Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Most clients I’ve worked with say they understand the key role accountability plays in making a company operate more efficiently (and therefore more effectively). They see the relevance of accountability and its place in the bigger scheme of things. And the research backs up what they think. Performance cultures have higher levels of personal accountability and as a result, they also have higher levels of overall company performance, employees feel a higher level of commitment to their jobs, and employee morale is higher (U.S. Office of Personnel Management).

As leaders focus on defining their core business strategies, as they work to clarify the company’s longer-term vision, as they encourage innovative thinking and more, they dream of empowering their people to do the work that needs to be done to accomplish the company’s overall strategic intent. 

How CEOs Should Spend Their Time

Cathy McCullough Tue, Jul 24, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

“Time is an inelastic resource. No matter how high the demand, we cannot rent, hire or buy more of it.”
-Peter Drucker

A Quick Note: This is a lengthy blog, but if you read it you’ll already be spending your time in an area where you should be spending your time (as you’ll see toward the end). So sit back, give yourself the gift of time, and enjoy the read.

A primary focus of my job is to help Executive Officers increase their efficiency while also (and more importantly) increasing their effectiveness. Most all CEOs I work with tend to agree that there’s never enough time in a day to do everything that needs to be done. As their companies grow and hit various ceilings of complexity, CEOs find that they, too, hit their own ceilings of complexity. This realization is all-consuming and inundating, with the end result being a string of behaviors that play out to result in focusing on what’s in front of them—on what they perceive deserves their time and attention at that moment in time (and many times, this intense focus also leads to long—very long—work hours). Interestingly, Harvard researchers found that the most effective leaders aren't the ones who constantly work a ton of hours each week, but rather the ones who are the most attentive and focused while at work. The intent of most all CEOs is to be attentive and focused, yet the hunger to simply work long hours so they can do more can be a massive beast that slowly devours the most valuable resource CEOs have: Time.

5 Insights You'll Gain From Executive Coaching

Cathy McCullough Thu, Jun 28, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

The famous mountain climber, Phil Powers, said it best during an interview on NPR’s "This I Believe” segment: “Concentrating on how I move through the world is important. It’s why I reach mountain summits and life goals with energy to spare.”

As a best practice, Powers uses a concept taught to him by his mentor, Paul Petzoldt. Penzoldt recommended a ‘rest’ (i.e., a slight pause) with each climbing step taken. It allows a climber to move swiftly, yet still find a brief pause in every step. The cadence of this sequence creates, in the end, a higher degree of forward-movement with what seems like less effort.

Most leaders dive into leadership without a second thought. I love the optimism that comes when people find themselves suddenly leading people (vs. tasks and initiatives they’ve been responsible for completing). The problem, though, is that most leaders simply don’t see the impact their leadership approach has on those around them (positive or negative). They don’t pause while climbing the mountain of business objectives for a rest step. They don’t give themselves quick moments of pause that allow for slowing just enough to gain the energy to keep moving forward.

Couple this lack of ‘pause’ with how fast everything moves in today’s world. Every motion, every thought, every piece of information we gain in a 24/7 world makes the concept of ‘pause’ seem ridiculous. It can even make us feel unworthy, lost, and unproductive. 

How CEOs Grow Accountable Leaders & Teams [Video]

Cathy McCullough Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

The question of how to grow an environment of accountability is a common one.

A Leader’s Template: 6 Questions to Ask in Your Next One-on-One Meeting

Cathy McCullough Tue, Jun 5, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

It’s fairly understood that great leaders don’t lead processes; they lead people. You’re probably aware, too, that great bosses have truly honed their skills in the areas of communication, information sharing, clarifying expectations, and celebrating wins.

Within the context of great leadership, though, comes crazy-busy days, last minute interruptions, sudden calls to meetings, paperwork, and more. If you’re spinning in one of these moments in time, this at-a-glance checklist might help you focus on continuing the maximize your leadership impact when you’re in a pinch.

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 leader 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 Planning 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!).