Here’s the third of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.
When Ronald Reagan [half-] joked with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 by saying the U.S. would “Trust but Verify” in our dealings with the Russians, the quip quickly became a signature Reagan phrase. It resonated with me as an entrepreneur, and I started to apply Trust but Verify to business situations, as have others in business across the country and the world.
It fits. It’s part of a Principled Approach.
When I Trust but Verify, for example, I:
- Get enthused about a resume yet also fact-check it.
- Shake hands, build a warm relationship, yet also put the details in writing via signed agreements
- Develop the contract to be mutually beneficial, while asking questions (non-defensively and non-confrontationally) to ensure we clearly understand every word and are protecting our interests.
- Approach strategic alliances and partnerships enthusiastically yet also research the other party’s history and background.
It’s not foolproof. Memories can fade – there can be misunderstandings or unexpected new situations – we can find we’re misaligned because what the words meant didn’t turn out to be the same in the new circumstances or situation. And sometimes people didn’t have the good intentions our experience and research indicated they did.
Still, I’ve found that Trust but Verify significantly reduces potential problems, and significantly increases the chance that the parties will work well with together over the long run. It can be tempting to close in on ourselves and operate from a place of mistrust and protectiveness, but we’ve found that approach tends to lead to fewer opportunities, less potential, less enlightened business decisions – meaning less happiness and generally less sustainable results.
So, in most cases, we bias towards Trust but Verify.
Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness:
Watch this space for numbers 4-10 – coming soon!