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Trust, but Verify

What President Reagan Knew About Accountability

Trust, but Verify

By: Ross Paterson

I have been working with my own team and several clients this week around the topic of accountability.  Here is an Xtra Mile Truth that most owners and leaders don’t understand; employees don’t mind being held accountable when the expectations are clear.

The leader’s job is to do three things:

  1. Clearly outline the expectations, in writing, with input from the team.
  1. Make sure you can accurately measure the critical indicators of performance. Reduce fog and fatigue by measuring only what really matters.
  1. Trust, but Verify.


The third step was President Reagan’s mantra while dealing with the Soviet Union on nuclear disarmament.  Verify means go put your hands on the process, people, or product that is getting measured.  Let the team see you regularly checking the things that are really important to business performance.  They will pay close attention to those results.

A Manager says, “I asked her, she said she did it, but she did not.”

A Leaders says, “I see a sample every day/week and I know we are getting it done.”

Trust, but Verify for Xtra Mile results with your team.