Are you familiar with Joseph-Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero”? The orchestral piece is recognized by many as the exemplar of the genre. Ravel composed the song at the request of a Russian ballerina.

Bolero, a musical style with roots in Spain, is an interesting and beautiful experience – as you can see by the video here.

In it, the melody is passed from instrument to another; like the flute, clarinet, bassoon e-flat clarinet, oboe d’amoure, tenor saxophone and soprano saxophone. As each instrument caresses the melody, very little support comes from percussion, which allows each instrument to soar beautifully in its interpretation of the notes of the song. You hear the clear, crisp and haunting tones of each musical voice.

Then the piece brings a small group of instruments together; Horns, piccolos and the celeste, then the oboe, English horn, clarinet, etc. The groupings add a new perspective to the melody. These harmonized notes intrigue the senses and provide depth to the experience.

Finally, as the orchestral piece reaches its finale, most of the entire orchestra has taken up the melody. Gone are the individual soles or small grouping. Welcome the power, richness, and impact of every member of the orchestra playing their part; parts that have been exquisitely linked to provide a complex but moving musical experience.

You’re probably thinking, “Ok, what does any of this have to do with internal audit?”

As we look at how these instruments team together and provide a positive and powerful impact on both the musician and the audience, we may be able to glean a few bits of wisdom from this masterpiece that easily apply to the internal audit function.

Perhaps, it’s ok to have a solo from time to time; to let our hair down; to be out front, enjoy the spotlight, receive the applause, and reap the rewards. When asked to work together though, it might be better to construct different harmonized roles and align our talents to the new group we have created.

When it comes to the internal audit function, when we are all working together, recognition of our individual contribution may be diminished but the ultimate result is larger and more meaningful. Much like the instruments in “Bolero”; together our message reverberates much stronger, together we hear the applause; together we reap the rewards; together we make beautiful music.

As auditors, we should never go it alone. There is always a team to support us and we should find ways to utilize those teammates whenever possible. For example:

1. Utilize the expertise of a co-worker to formulate your opinion.
2. Have a co-worker review your work – even if that co-worker is a junior level.
3. Let someone else with better skills interview management.
4. Call out the work of your teammates to management whenever possible.
5. Highlight a team member’s work to the audit committee.