You’ve heard the nightmare stories of embezzlement, an owner being forced out of the very business they grew, and trusted employees starting their own companies and siphoning off the top clients. If you’ve ever been burned, it’s easy to become cynical, hypervigilant and decide the only person you can trust is yourself. While understandable, such responses negatively impact income, success and satisfaction.
The opposite of cynicism isn’t being trusting. It’s being naive. Embezzlement, takeovers and stealing customers all take time to set up and never happen in isolation. What about you? Are you and your business at risk? Here are seven key signs you’re too trusting and putting your business and career at risk.
1. You tend to leap before you look. Indecision can kill a company. At the same time, if you have a pattern of taking blind leaps of faith, you risk losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build.
2. You lack checks and balances. Just as our founding fathers instituted a three-branch government of checks and balances, wise leaders establish policies and procedures so no employee or partner has complete say or solo access to everything, especially money.
3. You trust others without verifying. Instead of trusting blindly, do your due diligence by asking questions, getting recommendations and looking for patterns.
4. You immediately give new hires full rein. Even if you have a record of hiring rock stars or are tempted to do this when slammed with work, doing so sets the new employee up for failure. Even worse, when you fail to lead and ensure new hires are trustworthy and doing a good job, you place your reputation and the business at risk.
5. You let things slide and make excuses for bad behaviors. While conflict is rarely easy or pleasant, successful leaders consistently hold others accountable for what they do and don’t do, including tasks and how they treat others.
6. You override your intuition with logic. As a wise leader, pay attention to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or things don’t add up, there’s a reason. Second guessing and ignoring your intuition or the signs can lead to disastrous results.
7. You regularly get taken advantage of. Perhaps the most telling of all the signs that you’re too trusting is you get taken advantage of on a regular basis. Remember the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” If this describes you, it’s time to start looking at the messages you are telling yourself and the patterns you are engaging in. In an ideal world, everyone would be trustworthy. Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist, and to believe or pretend otherwise is naïve.
The sweet spot between being cynical or naïve is to trust with caution. Until someone proves themselves to be highly trustworthy, it is unwise to treat them as such. Even when someone has demonstrated they are highly deserving of your trust, when it comes to money and power, appropriate checks and balances will always be you and your business’s best friend. Even good people, when finding themselves in a desperate situation, can do desperate things.
No matter where you fall on the trust continuum, it is never too late to implement boundaries and set yourself, your business and your employees up for success. I’d love to hear what you’re going to do differently this year.