Competitive advantage is gained when we release excellence in the form of exceptional delivery of knowledge, products and services with excellent people. In support of this thinking and as a manager and leader, ask yourself the following questions. • Am I viewed as an individual who sets the standard of excellence in my primary job function? • Can my area of responsibility be used as an example of excellence? • Do I continually seek to benchmark my actions and the actions of my area of responsibility against the “best-in-class?” • Am I in the process of attaining “certification” or formal education in my job discipline that will set me apart from others? • Do I actively seek to understand and make known quality and reliability problems in an effort to provide products and services of unsurpassed quality? • Do others view me as an “expert” who is willing to share my knowledge? • Do I encourage, train or coach other individuals and departments to be the standard of excellence? • Do I consistently deliver on or exceed the promises that I make? • Do I embrace the philosophy that “good enough is NOT good enough?” • Do I only accept the highest quality of performance from everyone I interact with? • Do I look outside my own experience and even the experience base of the organization to find “best in class” practices? • What things can I do personally and professionally, both on and off the job, to increase my sphere of influence? Excellence everywhere does not just happen simply because an organization has a good product or offers a needed service. The underlying purpose of all organizational actions must have excellence built into them. It must become “how we collectively do things.” The organization must become a culture of operational excellence. Operationally excellent cultures are based upon constant improvement of systems, procedures, products and service, along with the quality of all members. They do this because the organization must deliver results. Excellence is relentlessly and consistently, day in and day out, over a long period of time, meeting stated milestones and realizing there are no finish lines… the race is never over. The great effect of delivering excellence is that it builds confidence, provides the organization with positive energy, provides “good” stress and generates the resources that perpetuate growth. Excellence everywhere denotes a relentless execution of the strategy with exceptional people (great players) occupying the right position, at the right time. Excellence everywhere does not happen without excellent people. Exceptional people do not simply look at their job as pursuing a career. Rather, they blend their personal mission in life with the mission of the organization. They plan, prioritize and pursue tasks and actions that build upon their passion, purpose and goals, which lead to a level of significance and meaning in their life. Excellent people want to construct a life that makes sense as a whole, both on and off the job. Individuals, who are aligned with both a personal and organizational strategy and set of values, have an enormous influence on both their personal and organizational success. This type of relationship is the essence of a win-win partnership between the organization and the employee. Excellence everywhere is orchestrating and deploying the strengths, talents and the competencies of excellent people, toward the accomplishment of the business objectives. Excellence everywhere is about all individuals understanding the strategy and having a sense of urgency concerning the business elements of profitable revenue and market growth coupled with meaningful personal growth. This “strategic alignment of human capital” is absolutely a key step in the drive toward becoming a great organization. This approach of developing and maintaining excellence everywhere will contribute greatly toward a sustainable competitive advantage and the realization of success for both the individual and the organization. As a manager and leader, you set the example. Use the following “value statement” as your standard and the standard of the organization you lead. “We will be unrelenting and uncompromising in our pursuit of quality and reliability in our products and services. Our overarching goal is to be the unsurpassed standard of excellence for others to use as the yardstick by which they measure themselves. We will not accept less than our honest best efforts to meet our obligations to our customers and to each other. We will not accept shortcuts to meeting the high standards we profess, nor will we shrink from the goals we have set for ourselves”. Copyright Information: You MAY reprint the information contained in this article as long as no portion of the contents are modified and it used “exclusively” within your organization. You must also give credit to information by including the tag line...Roger M. Ingbretsen, Author, Speaker, Leadership Coach, Organizational and Career Developer.