Effective Leadership within the Audit Sector

Effective Leadership within the Audit SectorImagine a freezing cold office, it was day and now it’s night and you’re still at work with a deadline to keep and not enough time or manpower to finish it. Without an audit manager you’d have no chance!

That’s how I used to picture my audit manager on those freezing cold nights with those deadlines looming. They would appear at my side like magic and quickly delegate the resources to the right people, while shooting out solutions to my problems and asking the sort of questions that I could only watch and listen to in awe. Fastforward a few years later and I’m an internal audit manager.

An Audit Managers job is tough but rewarding, you learn all sorts of great skills that you can easily transfer should you need to. Whatever stage you’re at, here’s a breakdown of what that role entails.


Follow The Manager

Don’t think that an Audit Manager is a natural leader, they need to have the skills of both. Being a manager is about being efficient and getting the job done while hitting the target that you’ve been set. Leading is keeping your team motivated, and inspiring your team while listening and responding to their needs. The Leader leads people and the Manager manages tasks. Being an audit manager means you have to do both:

  • Being a manager by organising the available resources to get the job done in the most effective way possible.
  • Being a leader by evolving team members to complete the same objectives, by building relationships, inspiring success, and gaining trust from your team.

But what does this actually mean in practice?


Behaviour, Competencies and Characteristics Of The Effective Audit Manager

Competencies are the characteristics that produce successful performance or behaviour in a given role. Competencies are defined by what you need to do to perform a job successfully.

Behavioural competencies are behaviours that can be found behind competent performance. Good performance is about being both able to do a job at a technically competent level as well as being about employing behaviours that support those technical skills. This isn’t easy! Let’s look at the definitive guide to those Audit Manager competencies and their associated behaviours:


Leading and Teamworking

An effective Audit Manager sustains and builds motivated teams who consistently meet team objectives.

An effective Audit Manager;

  • Should be seen, and sees themselves, as a role model to others and both ‘walks the walk and talks the talk’
  • Uses coaching rather than a controlling approach, appreciating the old saying ‘give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime’.
  • Treats others as they would like to be treated
  • Treats everyone with the respect and integrity they deserve
  • Takes questions and challenges onboard, without acting defensively
  • Makes prime use of the talents in the team
  • Should be emotionally intelligent: 
          - able to see the world ‘through the eyes of others’ 
          - has an awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses 
  • Adapts personal style to the circumstances and the needs of others
  • Recognises an achievement and then acknowledges a job well done
  • Communicates effectively, adapting their style to others
  • Provides positive, constructive feedback, which is specific and focuses on the behaviour and not the personality
  • Treats all team members as individuals, recognising and valuing diversity
  • Makes full contributions to a successful team performance
  • Communicates team goals in a way which motivates and inspires staff



The effective Audit Manager achieves objectives by managing people, time and costs, establishing clear priorities, actions, milestones and obstacles, while assessing progress, taking action as required. The effective Audit Manager knows how well ‘Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective Management is discipline, carrying it out’ (S.Covey).


Decision Making

The effective Audit Manager selects the best course of action based on the resources available and takes personal responsibility for the consequences.

How? The effective Audit Manager:

  • Objectively looks at all available resources
  • Makes responsible decisions, using both ‘heart and head’
  • Knows when to request a second opinion
  • Explains reasons for decisions to those affected
  • Ensures that any decisions made are implemented.
  • Is prepared to review decisions in the light of changed circumstances.
  • Modifies position, where appropriate, to get an agreed result.


Problem Solving

The effective Audit Manager generates new and practical ways of doing things in order to solve problems and optimise use of resources.

How? The effective Audit Manager:

  • Assesses solutions against the needs of the project
  • Identifies risks and the means of managing those risks
  • Encourages others to propose solutions
  • Spots tomorrow’s problem today
  • Steps back from problems to properly understand
  • Uses lateral and creative thinking to find solutions
  • Continuously identifies opportunities for improvement


Delivering Results

The effective Audit Manager meets targets and objectives.

How? The effective audit Manager will:

  • Prioritise time and focus to high value activities
  • Ensures that own objectives are aligned with those of the team
  • Employs skill and judgement to get the job complete
  • Identifies opportunities to add value to the task
  • Redirects own time to ensure objectives are met


Are YOU an effective Audit Manager? 

If you think you fit the bill of an Audit Manager and you’re looking to move job, make sure your CV is doing you justice. Are all these competencies, characteristics and behaviours reflected on your CV? Check out our Career Advice Centre for more tips on writing your CV to secure you an audit job.

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