Is that just a matter of semantics? Do agents of change compel or rather inspire? What do you think?

10 Jul


The 2014 annual report of the IIA, titled as AGENTS OF CHANGE, emphasizes the ambition to be effective as internal auditor. It says “To be effective, internal auditors must possess not only sound judgment and critical thinking, they must compel others to an appropriate and sometimes urgent response …”

I agree. And, I have one suggestion, that is, I suggest replacing “compel” by “inspire”. Why?

With pleasure I notice that the effectiveness of internal auditors has made it on the front page, well noting that this claim is aspirational at this point in time for internal audit agency presently is a rare phenomenon in practice. It is not the stereotypical model yet that internal auditors emerge as agents, who challenge the status quo and initiate to alter “the way we do things” in an organization.

However, internal auditors may become change agents. In doing so, the stereotypical model may transform from being rather reactive, responding, and seeking to meet others’ expectations to being an agent who drives change. A change agent breaks with institutionalized practices and contributes to establishing a new pattern. That requires particular personal characteristics and competences in, among others, liaising successfully with auditees, senior management and the board / audit committee, including business acumen, leadership and communication skills, listening and influencing skills and relationship acumen. When seeking to make a difference, and creating a unique and sustainable identity, inspiring others to change may become the avenue of success. Ultimately, the internal auditor has no formal mandate, he / she is in a way a “leader with no title”. When acknowledging that, inspiring others to change may be the more promising path when emerging as AGENTS OF CHANGE.


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