Just a short post – I often hear, and have used myself, the phrase ‘internal audit is a critical friend’. I sort of believe that, but my thinking has moved on. I now think internal audit is a friend. For true friends are not critical. At least not all of the time. Friends are encouraging, helpful, supportive, have shared values and belief in you and will always have your best interests at heart.
I believe it is possible to be a friend critically, or to be critical as a friend. A friend however is not critical, they are constructive. You will not perceive a critique from a friend to be critical. Rather you will take it as constructive feedback.
So perhaps internal audit moves from being a critical friend to just being a friend? I do think there is a difference between internal audit’s form of accountability and review, and external auditor’s or regulator’s accountability and review. For if criticism is public and shared it is not likely to come from a friend, it is coming from an unfriendly source. A good friend will pull you aside and draw things to your attention in a safe and supportive way.
This feels much like the space internal audit should be in. For public accountability can be powerful, both destructive and constructive. But how much more powerful is a deliberative and constructive process that has the ability to be honest, cathartic and genuinely transformational?
For I have learned most from my best friends, they have had the courage to be truly honest, but fair. They have shaken me from view, opened my insight and genuinely created some cognitive dissonance that has moved me to evolve and improve.
So as I think about how internal audit should be in an ideal world, something I do every working day, I am more convinced that internal audit is more like a friend. For only with friends can we truly see ourselves as we are and evolve and grow.
How much of a friend are you to your clients?