I rarely share my personal leadership experiences in Junto. But there is one I tend to think about and talk about more frequently than others because of the impact it has had on our work, effectiveness, and consistency: the use of standards and protocols.

The definitions of “standard” include:

something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example

something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality

There are two key parts to these definitions: the idea of authority, and that of example or quality. We use standards to do just that.

One example where they apply is the many sessions we hold each year. In our experience, email is the best way to engage our members and get them to respond. As a result, we have standards for when emails are sent out, how they should be crafted, and what the content should be.

Another example is how we use our core values to establish standards. One of our values is, “We treat each person with high touch and love, as if they are the only one.” Many times, we’re holding a session for the first time or one that brings together people from different companies.

As a result, when the session is held in the physical world, we have a standard of printing and using name tents so that each person feels important, enabling us to treat them with high touch and love (this was inspired by Dale Carnegie, who wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People that “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”). Even in large sessions with no tables, we follow our standard by placing name tents on the floor.

In contrast to standards, a “protocol” is defined as:

a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and precedence

the customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic formality, precedence, and etiquette

There are two key parts to these definitions: the idea of a code and that of etiquette. In simpler terms, we’re talking about a code of conduct, in which the protocols are the specific behaviors, actions, and language that make up that code.

An example of a protocol we use in Junto is “everyone speaks once before anyone speaks twice.” It’s a specific behavior that we ask of everyone in a room (regardless of seniority or experience level) to ensure that there is as balanced of a conversation as possible, with no one person dominating it nor one person being left out.

Another protocol we follow for all of our sessions is that of confidentiality: what is said in the room stays in the room. Similar to the first protocol, this one is “a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette,” at least what we deem is correct etiquette for our business.

At Junto, we define leadership as “moving people in the direction we’re going.” As its leader, I’m moving in the direction of building a business that is efficient, consistent, and potentially scalable. And I’ve found that these two ideas – standards and protocols – help make my leadership job a little easier.