I have to admit at the start I wasn’t much of a leader in my younger years, but in the past decade, I’ve kind of be taught the role of a leader. Though not a strong one, but one that tried to play by the book. Sure I may never put this skill into use for a life/death situation, but no less a good one to hold on and learn with as you age. But there is one thing you can only learn from experience. There may be books and brochures on leadership, but to actually take that initiative requires an observant mind and confidence of your team and in yourself.
Here in this post, I would like to take the opportunity to pass on my opinions and perspective of proper leadership. Hopefully some of these points you will take and apply to your guild whether you are a guildie wanting that spiffy officer rank or maybe that newly minted officer who needs to know how to professionally bond towards your subordinates. In the times I’ve been in guilds and led guilds, I’ve seen many command structure that really sparked mutiny, abandonment and even passive aggressive leadership abilities. What I do for my guild is what I can further provide them in the game. Establish that service and ensure it does the job correctly. Any game can have the social function but requires the player with the initiative to make it work. Thus why guilds stay and some go.
One night roaming around in the Knick-Knack Paddy-Whack Fields where you usually do your tasks within your beloved game. It’s still early, you’re just grinding away or even passing by to explore the land beyond. Suddenly you encounter one of the rarest creatures in the game. Of course you outmatch it according to some strategy guides, so you down the sucker. After a hefty amount of range and melee attacks, this isn’t going to be easy. In the slow over zealous defeat, you must have asked yourself “How can I defeat this?” Comes to you, form a party. So you rush into town throwing up chat spam “LFG/LFM for KKPW boss”. Of course many oblige and you add them to the sortie to vanquish this beast. Travelling back you notice stragglers still in town getting gear or consumables; maybe some even leaving since it’s not what they signed up for. By the time you arrive, only a handful is ready to destroy this fiend. Of course now you stand a chance with anonymous battle buddies at your flanks throwing all they can at it. You may take casualties, but you must defeat it at all costs. Eventual you will, maybe not this very moment; but you are eager to come hell or high water.
Of course most games are simple. High level can down low end bosses, simple stats here and there with a bit of of a +20 level gap. It can never fail. Of course, all the power to you if you enjoy the one man band. Might’ve just settled with a single player, but I’m not here to badger you on your choice of games. After awhile you do realize you are going to need a group of people who have similar goals in mind if you really want to get somewhere. With ill experience at making a guild (or lazy to make one), you find something appropriate. Of course there’s always those guilds promoting “maturity”, ”lots of raids”, “active members”, and “voice servers”. They’re speaking to your from beyond other lands or just dropped in to see if they can get new people to join. You take them up on you offer and you find yourself question how they just recruited you. All you hear over Ventrilo is trash talking, lots of cross talk and all you see in game is 5 members standing around. Probably you would say “crap, this guild sucks” and leave (or take your chances with the first impression). Now what? You keep trying? Lets say you do, for about 10 other guilds of similar results. What now? Probably move on into registering that guild? Thought so. But now you ask, “How am I going to get members?”, “How will I retain them to stay active and play?”, “Would I have to put in a lot of work?”, “How would teamwork work out?”. All valid questions, but lets just start with establishing the guild.
Establish The Guild – “What do I want in a guild?”
By now, you’re ready. Probably setting up that name and description. As the guild leader, your many of first tasks is to find a reputable name that people might understand and tune into. Something that makes them feel involved. You making the guild to be social no matter what degree, it is going to involve talking to people over the Internet. In my experience this can be extrapolated in real life. Military, corporations, or organization. I’ve used these references to figure out what I’m trying to convey. If you want, get all roleplay with it. Okay done, next you need to find what will define your guild. These will be the core attitude you wish to express throughout, this is too part of your personality as well.
If you want strong teamwork; you have to be that leader who can direct and command, reward and rebuke, listen and learn from others. Without any of these or even short can likely see the end within a month. As their leader, you must keep in mind to never force you hand for someone to play. Slave labour is not worth it. When you do complete something successfully as a group, commend everyone. A simple “good job” is insufficient. TankyMcGee1235 would like to hear that he did a fine job holding off that hoard and Healyman5 should be told he did a nice job with the buffs. Even if one person doesn’t say it, you must address it (i.e. “Tanky, that was excellent cover for Healy as he rez MagePi”). Don’t be mad you died, learn how you can improve and how they can improve. Address faults privately and never out a person for doing stuff wrong.
Maturity is a universal trait of a leader. As the guild master, this is your responsibility to uphold your level of maturity when dealing with guildies and initiates/candidates. You show the upmost respect, question, and critique on your guild. Being the passive leader without any of these may cause members to leave. Don’t be fully offended to everyone but remember, they too have individual personalities. Work that in your favour; if not, it may be your responsibility to rebuke that teammate to understand the core ideas of your guild. Understand that he or she may having a tough time. Take them aside and address this problem; if necessary, mediate with the other party to settle the conflict. As a group, you must all be willing to do it because of that member and not for yourself. Meaning in a raid situation; if you don’t have that question, join anyways since it may be interesting or maybe learn more about your member. In the face of absolute defeat either death or withdrawal from battle, regroup and discuss what went wrong. Don’t point fingers and go on a witch hunt. Address the issue and ask for feedback, therefore you get the accurate picture on how to fix it. Easy to order someone to heal, better if the person knows he has to heal thus a purpose on the outing.
Alright, you have you description in mind. Write it in perfect English, you can always put it into game lingo. However having it in perfect sentence structure and spelling helps distinguish you as a group willing to commit.
- Professionalism pays off
- Reward in public, rebuke privately (if needed)
- Conflict resolution techniques do help for internal problems
- Respect your quildies, they’ll pull through if you make sure they understand you’re not an jerk
- Ask and get feedback. Find ways to solidify strategies.
Develop, Develop, Develop – “How will this work out and what do we need?”
So now, you got your first group of people and maybe a budding member showing excellent qualities of a leader. Now you have to hold on to them. Best way to do this is go on raids with them. Sure they may be lower level or higher than you, but it’s a good way to know the who’s who of the group.
As a leader, use this opportunity to take note of those willing to put forth the effort. Take note of people that stands out to uphold and express what you’re doing in this guild. This is for you to keep in mind if there’s positions available that need leaders. Never under any circumstance create a false sense of leadership. In short; if you make a rank system in your guild, better not promote people you think are good but promote those who are good at the whole “being in the guild, helping my guildies” part. These very few will likely would appreciate the acknowledgement when they receive the proper rank. But do take note, that if they slack you do have the authority to demote if you deem the position they’re in is not suitable for their performance. Lets just say CaptPowers9 has shown he can lead a team, be mature to use your guildies in that manner and they can definitely will hold up their potential; then a promotion wouldn’t be so bad. If no ranking exists, commending on that fact would indicate to them that you are observing and likely if this is how you actually act, there may be hope for this person.
Now in any potentially strong guild, you need that lightning quick communication if you are going to commit to raids or things of that nature. Definitely might want to start out on that now that you have everything in order. You will notice that commands go out and executed much faster. “Defend Healy” would be more of a command than an instinct. Of course there are many free programs such as Ventrilo or TeamSpeak which gets the job done, however would require a fee for large server hosting. What now? No problem. Look around the Internet and find something appropriate but it should be one of the things widely accessible to all who join. I for one used those two but I’ve found that Raidcall is fairly suitable and simple so even the most novice microphone user can pull it off. Of course, there’s client embedded service like Steam and Xfire VOIP services. Take a lot around and keep in mind it may be technically hard for some people to get use to. Do you best to help them. Of course some may not like this change, don’t force it on them so hard. Show them the advantages even just by listening in. Even that one simple act of knowing their purpose on the outing would benefit the whole. Also establish boundaries to prevent cross talk. It’s easy to listen to one voice, many voices would just throw everyone off. Take into consideration to not be hasty on the lingo used. Assign a code word if you want total silence or attention towards the task. Be sure to never over use this phrase since it is only in case there an emergency or needed for an important announcement. On downtime between activity, allow for people to casually converse but try and maintain a few voices. If you have a server with channels, best to make one channel the rec room.
What if your guildie is a hundred miles from their computer and they want to message you of something important? Of course, set up an email or better yet; create a website or public domain where your group can gather and read anything pertaining to the guild. You can of course build and host your own, start a message board, even WordPress in my opinion would still be pretty effective as long as the guild is it’s own blog. Great way for that buddy on a business trip to say “Going to take a few more days, sorry guys!”.
Summary and Points To Think about
- Start bonding, learn what each member is good at
- Start talking through voice
- Set boundaries in the voice server or channel and maintain it
- Create an online space for the group to see what’s been going on
- Focus on finding leadership positions for anyone wanting to take on tasks as a group
- If budgeting is a problem, find free solutions
- Delegate responsibilities when maintaining these services to your guild
Organization and Operations – “What do we do if I’m not online?”
One of the largest concerns for me is that people are bored and do something while online or even log off completely since no one is online. There’s many ways to address the problem and the main one I do enjoy working with is autonomy. They should not depend on you to give them things to do. Encourage them to group together and do things. As long two people are together doing something, it can snowball and even the guild will gain members because off this snowball effect (i.e. “Oh man, they’re working together, wonder if I can get into this group.”) This autonomy will continually get people active and playing rather leaving to find greener pastures. Also you can even challenge the guild to do a certain task so they can practice working as one team. One thing I pulled off pretty well is a take and hold challenge where you travel to foreign lands and you survive on what you have in inventory and your team mates and it must be swarming with monsters that you’re always attacked.
In time, you will notice some will be active than other and even taking on the initiative to start these groups by themselves. There you know you have done well recruiting and unleashing potential from your members. Maybe some are shining brighter than others, you’re considering allowing them to take up more responsibilities. Treat this talk with this member as though they might take offence to it. Ask to talk to them personally and ask if they would like more responsibilities after you tell them what you noticed in them. If yes, don’t promote on the spot. Give it some thought on how this person would work out in a command structure. Shortly consider if they do reflect the core ideas of your guild, is it some or is it all? Are they active? Are they doing well with other members in the guild? If it’s yes to all, then likely you got a nice candidate in your hands. Let them continue as they are for a few days to observe some more, then on some downtime. Ask again and if it’s yes, make it official. Don’t be too grand but enough that other will notice that this person in your guild is a good person to go with in terms of looking up to for things to do or what to expect in the guild.
Now that you spread forth for one or two officers or ranking members. Look within the officers for traits that may help in assigning more responsibilities. This could be managing a group of players, moderating the voice server, creating content for the guild, even just checking and updating the website or message board. As you delegate tasks you will begin everything to flourish such as better recruitment selections, more active members, more activities being run, more fun and more large group stuff. With positives, there’s negatives.
Throughout you will receive that one new player with a chip off their shoulder. They don’t fit in. They’re acting out. And those provisional critiques have been warning flags. Never be afraid to confide into your officers and get their opinion and even try and encourage them to act more maturely to what you would expect in a guildie. If it doesn’t work it, kick and move on. If it’s an officer acting out, address it and warn of a demotion and a possible kick. If they want to keep their position, they would have to prove to you they can handle it.
As the guild grows, it’s going to be hard to maintain these things especially the concepts when you made the guild. It’s time that the officer all take responsibility to report and warn. In no way, allow any officer to kick. This tool should only be entitled to you the guild master. Officers should be your eyes, ears and mouth for the guild when you’re not around. Only the guild master finalizes anything important to the guild. After awhile, you may have to begin organizing the guild to more than just raid teams. You will for one part need an internals affairs team which would be a few officers revoked of the warn and report privileges and they act as observers and the reinforcement of the rules you set forth. These people should be the ones that has shown to really expressed interest in keeping the group straight and narrow. They should be trusted by you and the guild and you have to be trusted by the guild to understand there will be faults you can overlook but some will not be appropriate. If there is any problems a guildie can report to internal affairs and IA would report and possibly take action on behalf of the guild master.
- Autonomy is the guild’s responsibility
- Work together, reward together
- Officers make easier work, two people in admin is better than one
- Officers should be the perfect guildie, everyone likes them and they are everything you expect…nothing less
- Internal affairs is a nice to have if you need help rooting out the troublemakers
- Nothing is perfect, let the thing they can improve slide (remember to tell them if it gets serious)
Flexibility – “How organized should we be?”
Keep your teams flexible. Nothing should be permanent. If someone is gone from one team, it would be easier to shift over one person to replace that person. If someone doesn’t like the group and wants to change, try and make it happen. Express to your officers they can withdraw from their duties if they don’t want it anymore, there’s no harm in admitting that you’re over your head. Allow people to have short breaks or vacations or even light days where you and your guild just relax and chat and don’t do a lot. Stay focused on guild stuff still, but take it lightly. Also if you assign these days when you have nothing to do, look over guild notes on things to improve and prepare to tell the guild what to see and expect. Address this on a later date and never the days after.
As officers, their duties entail minor admin work. Encourage them to join you on scheduled meetings to address problems or critique on members. Anything to increase effectiveness and facilitate a relaxing atmosphere is when people have fun but not fun from other guildies pain.
In my honest opinion on scheduling meetings should be during the weekend at most once a week. Keep these meetings under an hour. Don’t lecture your officers, you are there to moderate, inform and be informed. Listen, mitigate and critique.
- Vacation days when no one really is expected to log on. Make it challenge if you have to force them to take it.
- Spend time only with the officers
- Present and listen to the officers have to say about the guild
- Meetings should be used to further maintain the guild
- Keep the meetings short and concise and make sure everyone has a say
Hopefully by the end, everyone in the guild would for the most part stay active and be happy about being in the guild. This teamwork and maturity in your guildies and officers have been passed down from you. Be proud you are now providing players a guild where the atmosphere is friendly but structured to allow guildies to network socially and but encouraged to play because of the activity around your guild. From my experience, the retention rate is fairly low since everyone is wanting to strive the same way to develop an interest in your guild and the game.
And to that, my final tips:
- Be confident
- Be concise
- Be open-minded
Then your guild will be solid. Carry on!