osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Link Harvest: Interview w/Kevin Martin on Leadership

A fair interview, in that it is not probing but basically an invitation to Kevin Martin to explain his feelings about what he learned about leadership at the FCC. On the whole, I think he keeps the inevitable post-Chairmanship whining/trash talk to a minimum. He doesn't single out any of his former colleagues as bad people or partisan or obstructionist, but he faults them on "not wanting to act."

Which is where I think Martin makes his mistake. Martin sees his role as a leader as deciding on a course of action and then trying to persuade, cajole, or otherwise push his colleagues to vote his way. The result was ultimately to create an adversarial process where the Commissioners invariably felt that they were being arm-twisted and that any expression of actual collegiality was simply a bargaining point for future deals.

There will always be a certain amount of politics and horse trading in any leadership position. But I think Martin learns the wrong lesson from his experiences. It is not about "leading" v. "trying to be liked." It's a much more complicated dance of trying to create a system where everyone feels the process is legitimate. That's an extremely hard thing to do, which is why none of the FCC Chairmen I've seen in action up close (Kennard, Powell, Martin) was ever fully successful at it.

Those who would fault Martin in particular as unduly arrogant or dictatorial are, I think, quite wrong. Martin tried to run an FCC that could take on the hard issues and resolve things along the lines he thought were right. That he failed does not make his effort any less well intentioned. Nor do his good intentions change that, ultimately, he failed.


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