In our just published book, Leaders Who Lust: Power, Money, Sex, Success, Legitimacy, Legacy, my coauthor and I spent ink on Bill and Melinda Gates. We categorized them as leaders who lust for legacy.
Leaders who lust have a “psychological drive that produces intense wanting, even desperately needing to obtain an object or to secure a circumstance. When the object has been obtained, or the circumstance secured, there is relief, but only briefly, temporarily.” Leaders who lust are, then, are insatiable. As soon as they get what they want, they want more.
Leaders who lust for legacy particularly are endlessly engaged in a quest to leave an imprint. They seek to leave an imprint that is large, that will last long after they are gone, and that will, as they see it, demonstrably improve the lives of others. Both Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda, his equal partner in the two decades old Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are leaders who lust.
But Bill stands out for two reasons. First, he was a leader even in his first life. As co-founder of Microsoft, he was one of the pioneers in the information revolution. Second, in his second life he, along with Melinda, have been leaders in philanthropy. Pathbreakers in who gives money away, in how money is given away, and in how much money is given away.
Now the pandemic has set Bill Gates apart – again. As a New York Times headline put it earlier this week, “Gates Looms Large in Quest for a Vaccine.”
Gates has been known for years for having become, through his intense, hands-on involvement with the work of the Gates Foundation, an expert in contagious disease. Given this history, and given he was prescient about the pandemic – years ago he warned that one was coming – it is not surprising that Gates has become one of the handful of experts to whom the world turns for guidance.
Here is why Gates is now recognized as one of the world’s most important leaders in the fight against Covid-19:
- He has long been anyway highly visible and widely recognizable.
- He is the world’s second richest man.
- He is therefore able as well as willing and even eager to donate many millions in support of the hunt for a vaccine.
- Given its history of combatting communicable diseases the Gates Foundation has an infrastructure on inoculation.
- Gates himself has become over the years an expert on viruses.
- He has an unrivaled global network: of leaders in governments, in industries, and in science and medicine.
- Gates is a leader who lusts – his passion to do good is unslaked. Despite his having become in recent months a target of conspiracy theories, of resentments and suspicions worldwide, his dedication to the cause remains as fervent as fierce.
Does Gates have a god-complex? Maybe. If yes, given his lifelong track record, and his apparently strong marriage to the indominable and incorruptible Melinda, I’ll take it. God is good.