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Rhythm Blog | Cathy McCullough

by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team

Strategic vs. Tactical Leadership: Which Management Style Are You?

Cathy McCullough Fri, Aug 30, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

We read a lot these days about strategic leadership and tactical 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 with the right methods for each situation. When you study leadership, you quickly discover the massive complexity that surrounds it. So let’s take just one slice of strategic vs tactical 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 management styles is imperative. Without a sense of understanding around your own leadership tendencies, you can’t move the needle on much of anything let alone work towards achieving a strategic plan or objective.

Leadership Development: Is There a Payoff?

Cathy McCullough Tue, Jul 16, 2019 @ 11:42 AM

In a study by McKinsey & Company, management development at all levels has been ranked as a #1 priority by 500 executives, and organizations throughout the U.S. are spending approximately $14 billion annually on leadership training. The expense of a custom-designed leadership development program can be very costly. The question, then, becomes: Does developing these leaders (executive-level, division heads, and emerging leaders) have a payoff?

The answer is: Yes…if

Yes if...your leadership development efforts are designed appropriately. All too often, companies simply delegate the development of a leadership program to their HR professionals. While this is good, it’s a tactical check-mark that “we’re doing that leadership development thing.” What your high-level directors of talent and culture need is your support to do it right.

The Link Between Communication & Organizational Accountability

Cathy McCullough Tue, Jun 25, 2019 @ 11:04 AM

Sometimes, you just have to slow down to speed up.

Communication Leads to Better Connectivity and Team Accountability

Communication is a very powerful thing, yet we talk about it so lightly. We toss the word ‘communication’ around as if it’s a catch-all for…everything. Yet, it is communication that aids us in the confirmation of the truth in certain scenarios and it is communication that provides clarity, definition, and intention to our words. The challenge with communication is that everyone’s communication truth can be taxing. Determining how to communicate to bring out individual truths (yours and your team’s) can be a powerful tool in developing higher levels of accountability and can lead to better connectivity throughout your organization. Knowing the people you’ll be speaking to and having an awareness around individual communication preferences is the most effective way to align individual and corporate truths.

Quick Tips for Building Accountability

Cathy McCullough Fri, May 31, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

Holding people accountable can be a chore for most leaders building an accountability culture. For a multitude of reasons, it’s simply not comfortable for most people. It’s great when people step up and take personal accountability. It makes your job so much easier! But, when you have people who just don’t hold themselves accountable and accept responsibility for their actions and instead play the blame game, then you have a much more difficult scenario.  

5 Insights You'll Gain From Executive Coaching

Cathy McCullough Fri, May 31, 2019 @ 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 and some senior leaders aren't wired to slow down to speed up.  Senior leaders learning to skill to stop to think and focus on long term strategy is a huge part of their leadership development.  Executive coaching, and the coaching relationship, is a good way to hold yourself accountable to developing these new habits.

The Five C's of Leadership and Team Accountability (Updated for 2019)

Cathy McCullough Fri, May 31, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:

“How do I build accountability in teams?

What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”

“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”

"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"

Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize.  It goes above and beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance.

How CEOs Should Spend Their Time

Cathy McCullough Tue, Apr 30, 2019 @ 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 middle market CEOs and their 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 Business Review 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.

The ROI of Executive Coaching

Cathy McCullough Thu, Apr 25, 2019 @ 11:03 AM

My last blog, 6 Excuses for Avoiding an Executive Coach (and Why You Should Think Again) talked about all the negative internal chatter (aka, excuses) we give ourselves for not wanting to have an Executive Coach. That blog also pointed out some of the key business benefits of Executive Coaching. What do some of those benefits actually look like and how do I know if I need executive leadership coaching?

6 Excuses for Avoiding an Executive Coach (and Why You Should Think Again...)

Cathy McCullough Fri, Apr 19, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

If you believe the adage, ‘time is money,’ then you’re saying that the concept of time (and the elapse  of that time) costs you and your company money. Therefore, maximizing that time and using it in the right way matters. Most executives don’t need to work on their literal area of business expertise (although continuous learning is important), but what many fail to recognize is that leadership, too, is a skill. The minute you became a leader, everything shifted. At that moment, you didn’t just have to do the tasks you’ve always done; now you had to also lead people to do what they do best, every single day.

The Value of Strategic Thinking and Planning: A More Robust Annual Plan

Cathy McCullough Sun, Mar 31, 2019 @ 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.