Today I will take you through my processes for leading a guild. I am using guild leadership as an example but this could easily be used when leading a raid. I am not going to cloak this in academic-speak. I am merely going to explain my own approach in a working-content style. Firstly, when forming the guild I needed to have strong people around me. At the end of the day, WoW for me is a game and a hobby and I have many tasks in real life which I need to devote time to. So I wasn’t able to set this up with the majority of the day to day running tasks falling on my own shoulders. I wanted several people around me that I knew I could trust to do tasks well when I was not around.
As stated in Part 1, this is called delegation. You must have good people working with you in a guild. If you try to do everything yourself then you will become snowed under by the workload, things will not get done, people will complain, you will feel upset at nobody understanding everything you are doing, etc. It won’t work. And the guild will fall apart if you leave. Get capable people working with you and entrust them with important tasks. You need to step back and see the big picture. Tweak it here and there when needed. If no tweaking is necessary, keep your hands off. The best leadership is unobtrusive. It makes the times when you need to step in more effective also.
Communication. But how? What are the most effective methods? I use several means of communication. The first is the guild website and specifically its forum. Each guild member is encouraged to regularly check the forum for new information. Which means that I must regularly put new information there. Your communication method must be dynamic. It must involve people. There is no use setting up a forum and then hardly ever using it. The few times that you put up information, don’t expect it to be read. I also communicate in-game. A whisper here and there to the right people can have a good effect. I try to have an officers meeting every few weeks on Ventrillo. And in all these cases I am trying to listen to what people have to say. I don’t talk to one officer and then make an important decision. That may be enough to alienate the entire guild, on a subject that you thought was fairly straightforward. I am always trying to put myself in the other persons shoes, to see the issue from their perspective.
With all of this comes feedback. People want to know how they are going. If I ask someone to lead a raid that I am not on, I take the time in the days afterward to find out how it went. Tell people they did a good job, that way when you have to tell them something that they might not like hearing they will be more open to any negative criticism. This goes hand in hand with communication, but a lot of people make the mistake that communication is just telling people what to do. It’s not. Listening and feedback are just as important in the communication stakes.
A good leader for me has balance. How I talk to one person may be very different with how I respond with another. Each person needs stimulus in different ways. Taking the time to get to know your people will help you greatly in communicating. Does this mean that I know every person in the guild this way? No, it’s not possible. But at the least I know the person above them in this way. You must also balance situations. What might be good for the individual may not be good for the guild. Being able to recognise these situations and taking the right decisions is very important.
Which leads me to my final points. A leader has to make decisions. A leader has to be seen to be making decisions. If a problem comes up, fix it. If someone comes to you with a problem, deal with it. Sound obvious? Perhaps it is. But the obvious things are often forgotten in my experience. Making decisions and making them well will install confidence and trust in you from your members. They know that if they have a problem it will be handled well. If you make the wrong decision, that’s fine. Fix it when you realise your mistake and admit that you were incorrect. You must be impartial in your decisions and unemotional. If you attach yourself to your decisions in an emotional way, then it will be difficult for you to admit that you were wrong. When conflict becomes emotional, good sense goes out the window. Things can be said that cannot be easily retracted after you have cooled down.
You must think long term. Often, the decision that is easier to make in the short term will not be beneficial in the long term. The decision that is tough to make today will relieve you from a world of pain in the future. An example of this is a guild member whose behavior upsets people but who is a valuable and key member from a raiding point of view. What do you do? Do you keep him, thus helping your raids to be a success? Well, they will be a success in the short term, but in the long term you might not be left with enough people to raid as they have left after dis-satisfaction with this individual.
Ok, time for the last point. Be impartial. No favorites, no special treatment, particularly with officers. Do not accept gifts, whether gold, mats, potions or items without giving them back in kind. Last night four of us ran Karazhan for a bit of a laugh. I am an enchanter, and there was another enchanter in the group as well. A rare enchant dropped which neither of us had. Did I want it? Absolutely. Did I need it? Not really, but it would have been nice. I didn’t even roll, I just gave it to my guildie. Sometimes, as a leader, a small gesture like this can count for a lot more than you would believe. Do you want your guildies to behave well, to be fair, to think of others before themselves? Yes? Then do it yourself. As a leader you lead by example. What you do will be noticed. Do it well.