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The “Golden 5%” is that last bit of maximum contribution that is inside all of us.

It’s the full expression of our ability, multiplied by our maximum possible effort, multiplied by our full contribution of heart.


hands cupped together holding what appears to be gold foil wrapped chocolates

In many ways, it is the most personal and intimate thing we can offer in a professional setting. It is the performance equivalent of what we offer in a deeply loving relationship – the absolute best of ourselves.

In this last 5% is the full measure of potential greatness inside each of us. And yet, we rarely give it or reliably inspire the giving of it by others in organizations. Why?


Here’s the catch.

As leaders, we cannot access the Golden 5% of our team members with money or benefits alone. It will not be unlocked because we gave a great speech or people like us.

This last measure of possibility is only given when others freely choose to unite some deeply held personal purpose of their own with the collective purpose of the company. In other words, it happens when the individual reason behind “Why” a key contributor does what they do is harmonized with, and augments, “Why” a company does what it does. This critical connection between the individual and the company is the reason Compass Point’s strategy works with clients. Facilitated by the Six Pillar Framework of Your Family Business, our strategy begins by “starting with WHY” to clarify the company’s core purpose.


“Why” is very different than “What” and “How.”

A staff member might be intellectually excited about an organization’s cutting-edge technological processes (What). Or, they might appreciate that the workday is flexible, projects are team-based, and there is a generous PTO policy (How). All these things would be positives in and of themselves and likely make that office a great workplace. But alone, those benefits are unlikely to unlock the Golden 5% in a significant number of people. So what would?


Here is a good place to start.

Ask yourself, when was the last time a wide selection of people in our company devoted significant time to discussing questions such as:

  • What’s the main reason I chose to do this work?
  • What’s the greatest thing I value about the people here?
  • What aspects of my work would I continue to do in some way, even if I didn’t need the money? Why?

For senior leaders, reflect on when the last time was that you led a conversation with staff, the board, and others about:

  • Why is the world better because this organization exists?
  • How could we make that contribution more deliberately and communicate it more passionately to the world in our communication, products, and services?
  • To what extent is that aspiration reflected in our strategy, systems, leadership, and culture?

A clear, compelling, and transcendent purpose, individual and collective, will unlock the Golden 5% – the full potential that normally lies dormant in most people and organizations. Look beyond the mission statement for a moment. Set aside the strategic plan language for an afternoon. Sit down with those with whom you spend a significant amount of time during the most valuable years of your life and discuss, “Why are we doing this and why is it important to us?”

Need a little inspiration to drive home the power of this exercise home with your team? Have them watch this TED Talk by Simon Sinek right before your meeting. It will change how they think and bring everyone closer to that Golden 5%.

Interested in learning more about our proven Six Pillar framework or want help bringing it to your business?

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John Bailie profile picture
John Bailie

John’s career and body of work has centered on leadership, organizational culture, and strategy. He excels at helping senior executives learn how to lead through conflict that result in stronger relationships, a more dynamic company culture, and teams leveraging their collective strengths. 

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