In her book, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower, Cooper counsels internal auditors to “find your courage.” Courage means many things to many people, so thinking about it and discussing it with others you trust can help you reinforce your moral foundation.
In Trusted Advisors: Key Attributes of Outstanding Internal Auditors, one of the nine key attributes I examine is ethical resilience, and in speeches about the book, I talk about internal auditors needing to be ethical AND courageous. I have known many ethical internal auditors who kept their heads down rather than confront highly contentious risks, issues, or results. But being courageous often requires being the lone voice. It doesn’t take quite as much courage to stand in line to point a finger. Indeed, courage does not wait for a choir.
But courage doesn’t suddenly blossom within an internal auditor simply because there is an expectation or strong case for it. I go back to Cooper’s admonition to “find your courage,” which requires practitioners to examine what courage is and under what circumstances their own internal fortitude may be tested.