The force was rated as "good" in reducing crime and keeping people safe; in its operating efficiency and providing sustainable services to the public; and in the way it treats the public and its workforce following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Chief Constable Stephen Watson said the recent result marks an incredible turnaround after the force was rated as "requires improvement" back in 2016.
"We are absolutely delighted," Mr Watson said. "This is a very comprehensive review into the force's performance by HMICFRS. Not only has South Yorkshire Police been rated as good across all major areas, it is additionally viewed as outstanding in terms of the lawful behaviours as illustrated by our people which is really important.
"For me, the key point is that it would be churlish to deny that there were some dark clouds over South Yorkshire Police which is well understood, but South Yorkshire is now the most improved force in the country for three consecutive years and we have gone from a bad place frankly, to being in the very top tier in the most effective police forces in the country and that by anybody's book is a pretty impressive turnaround and we are so pleased at the progress that is being made by the force."
He also praised the way the force investigates crime and how it continues to use "improved processes across the organisation".
Mr Gormley said that while the force has improved how well it protects vulnerable people, it still doesn't always respond to them quickly enough.
He added that the force has improved some of its crime-recording processes, but still has work to do.
He praised the leadership of the force and said: "Senior leaders support the workforce. I am impressed by how well they encourage a culture of ethical behaviour and promote professional standards of behaviour.
The Chief Constable said a number of factors had led to the force's improvement, but that South Yorkshire Police had always had a "talented and committed" workforce.
He said: "What we have done now is we have new leadership, a new plan, a new performance management framework. We have implemented an entirely new operating model which includes things such as the reintroduction of neighbourhood policing teams, the re-establishment of localised investigation teams and we have as a result become a more proactive force.
"We are more swift in making sure we deal with small things and stop them from becoming big issues which we then subsequently have to react to inexpertly and expensively. There is something about putting our people on the front foot, taking the talent we have always had and just making sure that we put our really really good people absolutely in the six yard box.
"The difference between where we are now and where we were was the catalyst in 2016 for improvement and was to get the force out of a bad place in its history. The catalyst now is to move from the point of being an overwhelmingly good force with pockets of outstanding practice, to being a truly outstanding force and that must be our ambition because ultimately this is not about the force being something of a show pony."