I got some good feedback on yesterday’s series starter about bad leadership models where we explored the mindset of the poser leader. If you haven’t had a chance, make sure to read up on one of the most prevailing leadership models you never want to become.
Today, we’re moving on in our series and covering a model that many of you, no doubt, have encountered in your experiences – the prostitute.
Now, we all are familiar with the common definition of a prostitute as a person who engages in sexual activity for payment from another. But the word also carries the second definition in the dictionary as a person who misuses their talents or who sacrifices their self-respect for the sake of personal or financial gain. Now we’re getting the picture.
I still vividly recall the first time I ever visited the city of New Orleans. I was visiting a good friend who was kind enough to pick me up from the airport and take me on a tour of the city. I recall very well coming out of the airport and heading up the ramp onto the highway where we were greeted with no less than seven billboards advertising strip clubs with “barely legal” woman giving us the naked-shouldered, come hither stare. I was so struck by the audaciousness of this that I made a comment to my friend in the car to the effect of, “I knew about the French Quarter, but I didn’t know about the in-your-face advertising!”
He continued to drive me around the city, showing me all the major landmarks that were important to him when we began to make our way out of the city into the surrounding areas. That’s when I noticed something else. The billboards were still present, but this time there was sign after sign, advertisement after advertisement with glossy pictures of well-manicured “pastors” and “first-ladies” inviting me to come to their church on Sunday morning. It was then that I said to my friend, “Ain’t it funny how we saw billboards of prostitutes on the way into the city and now we’re seeing billboards of prostitutes on our way out?!”
Seriously. Prostitute leaders can be found in many places. In the workplace, in the schools, in the government, and most especially in the churches. They are the ones who smile in your face, promise to give you what you want, and perform a show in order to line their own pockets with personal gain: be it wealth, ego, or power.
And while the examples of these types of leaders in the political and religious arenas are plenty and varied, that’s not really what this post is about. The truth of the matter is, it takes a lot of “johns” to make a successful prostitute. In other words, there still had a to be a lot of people following these leaders who wrongly identified them as authentic or who saw and ignored things that bothered them in order to maintain the status quo (when that happens, by the way, you become a prostitute yourself).
“When we see persons of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see persons of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.” -Confucius
So, in an effort to help those who might be following a prostitute leader, here are three common characteristics that will you will always see in a prostitute:
- Prostitute’s values are for sale. Values are those principles that we hold to and that are dear to our hearts. They are our core beliefs, our standards of behavior, and the foundation of our moral judgments. Prostitutes are people that have values that can be easily modified to justify any situation that may require them to do something that they know is wrong, but that helps them gain something that satisfies their selfishness. A good example is here is Bernie Madoff – the now convicted mastermind of a massive Ponzi scheme that left thousands of investors defrauded of billions of dollars and who later characterized what he was doing to his sons as, “one big lie.” True leaders are those of strong structural integrity and moral character. Nothing that is highly valued should ever be for sale.
- Prostitutes are an illusion. Let’s face it. The men that hire these women on the street for sexual satisfaction are buying into the illusion that these women are offering. What’s the illusion? Well, there’s two sides to this coin, so let’s look at both. Love. Acceptance. Belonging. Connection. That’s the first illusion. Some of these men are seeking validation from a woman and the fact that they can hire someone to make them feel like a man just helps them climb further into the fantasy world that makes what they’re doing seem okay. On the other side of the coin is: Power. Control. Satisfaction. The second illusion. Some of these men are simply out to show how they can control and have power over these women with a wave of some cash and an opening of their door. Why would they do that? Because they feel powerless to have any real satisfying sexual relationship of their own. The sickest part of the whole illusion is that it takes women to make this whole thing happen, so why are they there? The ones who willingly submitted themselves to this lifestyle are there for the same self-satisfying reasons the men are – and they’ve justified their blatant disrespect for their own bodies as the mere collateral damage that must take place for them to have what they want. True leaders are never trying to fool anybody for their own selfish gain. Their motives hold true under distant scrutiny or close observation.
- Prostitutes do it for the money. This should go without saying, but it bears repeating. Prostitute leaders are only in it for the money. They may feign to really care about they’ve been hired to do, but they are really just in it for the cash. I ran into this head-long while I was a substitute teacher for a local public high school. I was eager to help teach these kids, if even for a day, but kept hearing the same tired attitude from the tenured teachers, “What do you care, these kids are no Einsteins…we’re just here to keep them busy until they graduate. Just be happy you got the money today, kid.” These were the teachers helping to shape the citizens of the next generation? Yikes! There’s no room in leadership for paycheck players. True leaders do it because it’s their purpose, it’s their passion, and they couldn’t be fulfilled without it. They were doing it long before they were recognized with money and will be doing it long after they stop receiving a paycheck.
Well, there you have it. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it should help you remove the blinders or at least give you the right magnifying glass to investigate those you suspect of operating in this egregious model of bad leadership. And hopefully, it’s not you.
Feel free to share your stories of prostitute leaders in the comments below and tune in tomorrow for the final installment of the leaders you don’t want to be series with a look at the power-brokers.