Do you occasionally reflect on the people who have significantly impacted on the way you think and operate?  Do you know who has influenced you in the way you conduct yourself? Recently one of my wonderful colleagues put out a challenge to people like myself to name and write down a list of fifty (yes, 50!) people who have shaped me in some way during my life.  These people could be alive, dead, authors, researchers, celebrities, colleagues, relatives – in fact, anyone who has contributed to my growth and thinking and helped me to be the person I am today. 

When I was confronted by the question, I initially thought this would be difficult to answer but quickly found that this was not the case: many, many people have contributed towards my thinking and beliefs.  Several people have been significant ‘teachers’ in my life, even when they perhaps were unaware of their level of influence on my thinking at the time or where this would lead me.  What was powerful about this exercise was realising that no matter what had happened to me at certain times of my life, the influence of these people has helped to lead me to be where I am today.

Taking this question forward into my auditing work, I have seen many, many wonderful people influence not only the development and refining of the various standards but also influence how entire sectors respond to their auditing requirements.  Sometimes this is very positive – and occasionally it takes time to work with individuals to help them move their own thinking beyond a negative or limited opinion about auditing.  Sometimes I am confronted by people who are dismissive of the benefits of a robust yet professional external review of their operations and find that I take time to walk people beyond the ‘necessary evil’ mindset.  However, the times when people welcome the audit and acknowledge what auditors bring to the entire process are really refreshing! 

Do the people working for the organisations and businesses that are regularly audited always consider the role of the auditor’s influence in their practice? I think the answer to that depends on the individual and can change from situation to situation.  Regardless, auditors need to continue to operate from a very professional, yet empathetic and compassionate position, exercising their own executive presence within their work at all times.  We don’t always need direct validation about the extent of our influence.  After all, auditors are often the catalysts for change in other people’s lives – even we are unaware of that fact – and we don’t always get to witness the full extent of what this can mean over time.  And that is the beauty of the work, I believe!

Thinking ahead:

  1. Who would be on your list of people who have influenced your life, thinking and your beliefs?  What makes these people stand out to you?
  2. Are there ways you can acknowledge these people in your work now?