“You can call me Mr. Coats” was the empathic reply given by one Sipho Coats age five to ‘Lochie’ (abbreviation for ‘Loch Ness Monster’ i.e. Vicky’s mom). All this transpired during a telephone conversation which became embroiled in why Lochie called the Zulu on our stoep ‘Daniel’ – his first name, and not ‘Sipho’, his more common zip code.

‘Mr. Coats’ was going through a stage where almost every sentence begins with a ‘why?’ ‘where?’ ‘what?’ or ‘how?’ This has reduced his demented mother to the …’Aauurgh’ stage, which I somehow don’t think is Gaelic for, “bless you my precious”…but then again, I’ve been wrong before.

Questions are important though.

Recently I heard it said that the “opposite of faith is certainty”. I like that. In fact the more I have thought about it – a rare occurrence according to my supportive wife – I have come to realize that a faith that fails to embrace our doubts and questions is perhaps not much of a faith at all. To others, such faith must appear somewhat barred and guarded, one surrounded by high walls, closed, grim and rather unattractive.

Os Guinness writes that, “to understand doubt is to have a key to a quiet heart and quiet mind”. I wonder then if the faith needed for leadership today is one that ought to incorporate vulnerability, a faith made strong by embracing our questions and doubts rather than one stuffed with answers and certainty. A faith without walls.

What would such leadership look like?

Whatever it may look like, I suspect the world could do with more of this brand of leadership!

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