Internal auditors have a tough job—they have to enter a team and gain full trust and transparency in a limited amount of time. They understand that the most effective and efficient way to gain that trust is through emotional connection. In working with internal auditors and board audit committees, I have noticed 13 things that emotionally connected internal auditors don’t do:

1. They Don’t Blame

Emotionally connected internal auditors don’t blame. Instead, they make people feel safe by working together in identifying the root cause of the problem. They understand that when people feel blamed, they become defensive and start withholding information to protect their safety at all costs.

2. They Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Emotionally connected internal auditors don’t jump to conclusions. They are able to manage their emotions in order to stay accessible in listening to every side of the story. They don’t say things like, “You don’t need to explain,” because they understand that by staying emotionally accessible to people, they are more likely to make the most accurate determination.

3. They Don’t Shy Away from Differences

They don’t try to avoid conflicts as they have a keen understating of how to manage their emotions. Conflicts are about topics, they don’t define a relationship. Emotionally connected auditors welcome differences of opinion and are willing to be flexible in exploring new viewpoints.

4. They Don’t Give Up Easily

Emotionally connected internal auditors don’t give up when things get tough. They understand that the only thing between them and full transparency is emotional disconnection. When they enter a team that is in turmoil (which is often the case), they validate people’s concerns so that people don’t shut down.

5. They Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

You won’t hear emotionally connected auditors complain about the number of questions they have to ask. Because they know how to connect and engage people in a way that asking tough questions becomes more of a conversation rather than an interrogation.

6. They Don’t Intimidate Others

Emotionally connected internal auditors are able to connect with their team by bonding over the company values. Taking a moment to recognize people’s care for the company removes the threat and makes them an ally.

7. They Don’t Stop Being A.R.E.

Emotionally connected internal auditors never stop being accessible, responsive, and engaged (A.R.E.). They know that by responding to people’s emails and phone calls, creates safety and connection, sending a clear message that they available to help.

8. They Don’t Fear Recognizing Mistakes

They don’t make foolish mistakes, but have no fear of making one either. It is much easier to avoid mistakes when directors are supportive of each other. And if a mistake happens, they will help each other to recover together.

9. They Don’t Lose Their Focus

Emotionally connected internal auditors appreciate the value of keeping that connection with people and try not to get too off track with content. They stay focused on recognizing the emotion and then bringing it back to the task at hand.

10. They Don’t Create Roadblocks

They don’t set up barriers for people. Instead, they understand that in order for the investigation to provide the team with the confidence they need to address challenges together and keep the company moving forward.

11. They Don’t Reject Attachment

Emotionally connected internal auditors aren’t afraid of forming bonds as they know that human beings thrive in secure and safe relationships with others. Although the job is to investigate, they know that secure attachment leads to transparency.

12. They Don’t Cause Confusion

They know that confusion and surprise is the enemy. When they work with a team, they first lay out what the process will look like and then the expectations. They know that the priority in a successful investigation is establishing a safe environment.

13. They Don’t Take Their Role for Granted

Emotionally connected internal auditors value their relationships. They know that creating an effective team is challenging and takes a lot of work. They also know that when the team is emotionally connected, serving as an auditor becomes a lot more fun and personally satisfying.

Emotional connection is key for any internal auditor. Risk management and assessment of governance start with full transparency, which can only be gained through an emotional connection.

Lola Gershfeld

Lola Gershfeld

Lola Gershfeld, PsyD, is a board dynamics specialist, founder and CEO of Level Five Executive Inc., a board consulting firm in Newport Beach, Calif., that focuses on the human condition in the boardroom.