“When leaders have imagination and courage, then success follows.” ~ Robert I. Sutton Scaling Up Excellence

Leaders define organizational excellence. They do so by having a clear, concise picture of what it looks like and then thoughtfully designing a path by which to get there. They take action and execute, leading us carefully and with intent, along the way to that destination. Sometimes, often times, there are trying situations and difficult circumstances along the way. And it’s precisely those opportunities that build the foundation needed to achieve excellence.

Organizational excellence starts from within.

As I led others during my time in the Army and even now as I continue to do research and grow as a leader in civilian life, I have come to know three things that happen along the journey toward excellence.  These 3 things play a major role in a team’s ability to change, adapt, have strength, remain committed to any given goal.

Developing members within your organization starts with deliberate efforts on the part of its leaders.

Developing members within your organization starts with deliberate efforts on the part of its leaders.


It takes a leader with a transformational mindset to align the vision for the destination with a focus on the development of teams, departments and individuals. The journey itself it what transforms your organization’s culture. To establish a culture with a competitive advantage, organizational leaders need to be deliberate in their efforts to develop members. This transformation builds depth and sustainability throughout the organization, spreading and scaling excellence.

Leaders serve their organizations best by implementing a leader and talent development framework to achieve company goals and objectives. ~ Jonathan Silk 3x5leadership.com

Transformational leaders align and prepare organizations for an increase in shared leadership with increased opportunities for innovation and change.


People are designed for the journey more than the destination. The ability to excel resides in all of us. The inspiration to tackle the challenges and ambiguities of life and work comes from the inside, not the outside. It is the supervisor, the leader’s job to tap into the inspirational energy that already resides in his/her employees and provides the spark that lights the fire to fuel people to start the journey toward excellence, individually and as part of a team and larger organization.

As mentioned previously, leaders drive culture. Leaders should expect the best, and model for others what that looks like, providing the example and inspiration for others to follow. By operating with the mindset of excellence, leaders can more effectively transform a culture from mediocrity to organizational excellence.


Fight Mediocrity

A true leader provides the spark that lights the fire to fuel people to start the journey toward excellence, rather than mediocrity.


To extract the best from people, leaders and supervisors present the intent and outcome, and then utilize coaching techniques to guide team members to do their best thinking. By empowering rather than controlling, and with a focus on adaptability, leaders will raise their employees to a higher performance level, through encouraging the sharing of new ideas and solutions.



When leaders focus on the journey to excellence rather than the destination, teams and units will be developed to perform at their full potential when they encounter adverse situations.

Teams that perform well possess strong emotional bonds. (See my article Leverage Your Competition and Win). Leaders can facilitate the development of emotional bonds through conversations with team members that communicate the importance of their work to the overall mission and purpose.

From my own experiences in combat, it takes strong emotional bonds among members for units to perform well in incredibly adverse and ambiguous situations, to learn and adapt quickly to rapidly changing situations.

The journey is like a bridge.

The journey to organizational excellence is like crossing a bridge. You take one step at a time. It takes courage, but the act itself of moving forward is central to getting to the other side. The other side may not always be visible to everyone, it might be a gray with ambiguity at times. Still, you imagine getting there, you allow for creativity along the way, you encourage and empower others to participate.

The Bridge

One step at a time.

As you and your team begin to cross “the bridge”, learning and development begins. This journey presents an opportunity for you to build a solid foundation for excellence and outstanding performance, no matter what situation awaits you on the other side.

Toujours pret. Always Ready!

Follow Jonathan Silk on LinkedIn.