Al Sikes talks leadership at WC
CHESTERTOWN — Leadership’s role in cultures, the effect of politics on citizens and technology’s relationship with communities were themes former Federal Communications Commission chairman Al Sikes discussed March 22 at Washington College.
The talk was part of a series by the college’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture. Earlier the same day, Sikes, who lives in Easton, spent time talking with students about his latest book, “Culture Leads Leaders Follow.”
Serving as FCC chairman from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Sikes also was president of Hearst New Media & Technology, now Hearst Digital Media.
Reading excerpts from “Culture Leads Leaders Follow,” he compared business and community leaders to the leader on fishing line.
“It should be slight and transparent, but does not break easily,” Sikes read. “If leaders are too short or thick, the trout will sense deception.”
He said the same applies to human leaders and how the media favors those who are “bombastic and obvious.” He said in his experience, leadership can be a combination of theater and politics.
“When dealing with the vain, never discount the power of flat- tery,” Sikes said.
Sikes also touched on his time in the “power city” that is Washington, D.C. He said to him, the city and those who live there appear to be frozen in time and unable to move past the realm of politics.
“The tax codes are like insects frozen in a piece of amber. ... Political parties are mostly in a time warp,” Sikes read.
He said the presidential primaries, and the election of President Donald Trump, were examples of different leadership tactics. He said Sen. Bernie Sanders and Trump were “outliers” due to their different strategies.
“They amazed everybody,” Sikes said.
He said he was familiar with the technology world as it developed during his time with Hearst, and saw how consumers were reduced to data streams by companies. He said today’s connectivity has allowed “personal profiles” to be readily accessible.
“Executives chose not to see beyond the data sheets,” Sikes read. “What happens when a culture looks only to data? The community and its dynamics then become irrelevant.”
He said today’s cultures are not only affected by large movements, but also by “pathfinders” who want to make changes take place in their world.
“A culture is not beyond being reshaped. We’ve seen the many ways it can be reshaped,” Sikes read.
Former Federal Communications Commission chairman Al Sikes uses a chapter of his book “Culture Leads Leaders Follow” to make a point about leadership during a lecture Wednesday, March 22 at Washington College.