Effective Management & Leadership

Effective Management & LeadershipPicture this... freezing cold weather, a crazy deadline to keep, lack of time, staff and sleep.  No audit manager?  We’d be beat!


What’s it like to be a hero?
I know that’s how I used to think of my audit manager in the depths of winter, on the darkest, bleakest, tightest of audits.  Much like a super hero, he or she would swoop down, magically marshal the right resources into the right places, raise the sharpest questions and proffer solutions to the spikiest of problems.  And scarily enough, within five years in audit I was one myself.  And there the buck came to rest...

The role of audit manager is a demanding one; but also very covetable, being chock full of highly desirable transferable skills.  So whether you’re already there, up and coming, or looking to sharpen your saw, let’s take a look at what really makes the audit manager effective.


Managing is not the same as Leading
Of course we all know that.  But in audit you need certain core elements of both.  Managing is all about getting things done, making it happen, hitting that target.  Leading is more about facilitating, inspiring and motivating, taking the team with you, making it happen through others.


Let’s start at the very beginning
With a classic definition:  Leaders lead people. Managers manage tasks.  The audit manager needs to do both:

  • as manager directing resources to complete goals or projects in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible
  • as team leader developing team members to achieve the very same objectives, by building relationships, evoking success, and eliciting trust

But what does this mean in practice?


Competencies, Characteristics and Behaviours of the effective Audit Manager

Competencies are defined as the characteristics that produce successful performance or behaviour in a role. Competencies describe what you need to do to perform a job well.  Behavioural competencies are the behaviours that lie behind competent performance. Good performance is both about being able to do a job at a technically competent level as well as about employing behaviours that reinforce those technical skills.

This is no mean feat!  Below you will find the definitive guide to Audit Manager competencies, together with their associated behaviours – nearly 50 in total!


Leading and Team Working

The effective Audit Manager builds and sustains motivated teams who consistently realize team objectives.  And the effective Audit Manager well knows that ‘inventories can be managed, but people must be led’ (H Ross Perot).

How?  The effective Audit Manager:

  • Is emotionally intelligent:
    • able to appreciate the world ‘through the eyes of others’
    • has a mature awareness of own strengths and weaknesses

        • Is seen, and sees self, as a role model and ‘walks the talk’
        • Flexes personal style to circumstances and needs of others
        • Treats others as they themselves would like to be treated
        • Recognises achievement and acknowledges a job well done
        • Communicates effectively, adapting style to others
        • Provides positive and constructive feedback, which is specific and focuses on behaviour not personality
        • Treats people with respect and integrity
        • Treats all team members as individuals, recognising and valuing diversity
        • Takes responsibility but not all the credit
        • Makes a full contribution to successful team performance
        • Takes questions and challenges, without acting defensively
        • Makes optimum use of the talents of team
        • Communicates goals in a way which motivates staff
        • Uses coaching rather than ‘command and control’, appreciating that to ‘give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime’.


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

How?  The effective Audit Manager:

        • Identifies priorities, tasks and work schedules, upfront
        • Manages more than one project simultaneously, flexing priorities and resources and resolving conflicts
        • Optimises the use of resources
        • Ensures team meets deadlines and budgets
        • Clarifies the responsibilities of the team, to avoid duplication of effort
        • Uses delegation to leverage resource and fulfil personal professional objectives of team
        • Sets milestones in terms of what is achieved and delivered.
        • Monitors progress and acts to resolve delays
        • Anticipates and promptly raises problems and blockages


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 explores available resources
        • Makes responsible decisions, using ‘heart and head’
        • Knows when to request a second opinion
        • Explains reasons for decisions to those affected
        • Ensures that decisions are implemented.
        • Is prepared to review decisions in the light of changed circumstances.
        • Modifies position, where appropriate, to achieve a 'win-win'


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:

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


Delivering Results
The effective Audit Manager meets targets, priorities and objectives.

How?  The effective audit Manager:

        • Employs skill, effort and judgement to get the job done
        • Identifies opportunities to add value to the assignment
        • Redirects own time and resources to ensure objectives are met
        • Prioritises time and focus to high value activities
        • Ensures that own objectives are aligned with those of the team


Are YOU an effective Audit Manager?

It’s an awesome list!  How do you rate? Whether you’re an aspiring, fresh or veteran Audit Manager use the list to compile your own personal SWOT (strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats).   Your SWOT is an invaluable professional development tool, helping you analyse your skills, spot any gaps and design an action plan to remedy.

And finally if 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?  They are all prized transferable skills.  If you’re not recognising and promoting your full skill set, you are quite literally ‘leaving money on the table’!




This article was written by Carol McLachlan for CareersinAudit.com

To look for a new audit job, visit CareersinAudit.com, the leading job site for auditing vacancies.

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