In preparing for discussions to limit or reduce missiles, Ronald Reagan learned that Russians liked to talk in proverbs, and was taught many Russian proverbs including one that came to be one of his favorites, doveryai, no proeryai—Trust, but verify.
As club managers, one of our main duties is to be both a leader and a manager – and know at what time, and at what moment, to wear the “leader hat” or the “manager hat.”
I believe leadership and management to be different. Leadership is about influence and management is about compliance. Leaders create vision. Managers focus on tasks. We lead people and manage systems.
In making sure that our facilities meet the expectations of our members and guests, there is a responsibility to make sure carts are clean, dining tables are set correctly, plating presentations are consistent each day, pool towels are stocked in the proper manner, phones are answered correctly – the list goes on and on. A manager must make sure the club and facility present to standard.
One of the most powerful management lessons I have ever learned came from Ronald Reagan.
During the 1980s the Soviet Union and the United States were approaching a treaty to limit or reduce their missiles. In preparing for the discussions, Ronald Reagan learned that Russians liked to talk in proverbs, and was taught many Russian proverbs including one that came to be one of his favorites, doveryai, no proeryai.
Doveryai, no proeryai translates to “Trust, but verify.” The INF treaty banned all of the two nation’s land based ballistic and cruise missiles. Signed in 1987, and it would call for an extensive verification procedures to allow both sides to monitor compliance with the treaty.
When Reagan was asked about the Soviet Union’s compliance, he would quote the Russian proverb and said we had a duty to “Trust, but verify.” Since the quote came from a Russian proverb, rather than being offended, Mickael Gorbachev laughed and appreciated the term. With the 40th President of the United States using this term, it became a respected ideal and part of our lexicon.
The phrase “Trust, but verify” can be used in multiple scenarios to ensure your expectations and standards are being met and followed. It can be used when you are not 100% certain a task will be completed. It can be used to create accountability and awareness and the idea of “inspect what you expect.” It is also an application that can be used when questioning the status quo or what is taking place. It can be a great way to let a co-worker know you’ll be following up.
I have shared this story with many managers and co-workers. The statement of “Trust, but verify” sends many different messages. It says that I “trust you,” or the co-worker is trusted. It says “I know you care and are trying.” When it comes to verifying, it also says that we have an expectation for accountability and achievement by follow up. It says that our culture ensures that tasks or assignments are completed. It is a simple message that can resonate with all co-workers. Plus, it sounds so much better than “make sure X is done correctly.”
All managers have been in a situation where we asked a co-worker to complete a task or assignment and it does not get completed. We refer back to the thought of clear instructions given. At the same time, we have been in a situation where we’ve asked a manager to complete a task or assignment and it does not get completed. The manager then says something like “I told Johnny to take care of that task” and accountability is avoided.
A response that I have found to be beneficial is “Ronald Reagan said what?”
This question poses the response from the co-worker of “Trust, but verify” with the manager or co-worker understanding the need to follow up – to check that tees are stocked, menus are printed, fliers are correct, or room setup follows the BEO, etc.
I recently wrote an article on ROAD method – Rip Off And Duplicate. I learned the “Trust, but Verify” from Ken Hultz. He would say to me “Ronald Reagan said what?” – and the message was very clear about the need to follow up and accountability ultimately rested with me.