Al Sikes talks lead­er­ship at WC

Kent County News - - NEWS - By DO­RIAN MITCHELL dmitchell@thekent­coun­

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.

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