Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

On Leadership

I arrived at the guild leadership position pretty reluctantly. It wasn’t something I ever sought out or campaigned for. I didn’t start my own guild from the ground up. I took the position because – and I suspect this is more common than you’ll hear – nobody else wanted to do it. Nobody wanted it, and I wanted the guild to keep going and to do well. So I agreed. I don’t think I was the popular choice at the time, some people even going out of their way to let me know that xyz would have done it better.

I’ve made mistakes. Learning on the job will do that to you. One of the mistakes I made was not doing enough, thinking I could withdraw, stay everyone’s friend and let someone else do the dirty work. I’ve taken steps to rectify that since, and I like to think I’m succeeding. At the end of the day, the responsibility for the success and failure of the guild rests on my shoulders and I take that very seriously. I don’t consider my fellow guildies lightly. I’ve only been at this gig for a year and a bit now, but I’ve learned some things along the way. I’d like you to listen to these things, for just a moment.

I’ve spent countless hours worrying, talking, planning, and labouring for my guild. I’ve lost sleep. I’ve shed tears. When we’re in recruitment mode (and we are right now), I refresh forums every five minutes looking for suitable candidates. I try to write ads that will catch people’s eye, make us stand out in a sea of guilds with the same progression, with similar goals. More than anyone else, I have to believe in what we are doing because I have to convince others of that vision. I pay attention to who comes online, I get concerned when I haven’t seen someone for awhile, and I can tell when someone’s interest is waning. I can gauge the mood of a raid. I can tell you how many days it’s been since we last had a new boss kill, and I can sure tell you how I’m afraid that people will lose interest. I try to keep things upbeat. I make unpopular decisions. I know the ‘real’ names of every person in my guild and I genuinely care how things are going in their lives.

I think we have something truly great, and I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just due to me. I am terrible at vent interviews – I have a fantastic officer who  leads them. I don’t really like tweaking website code or colours – I have a savvy officer who handles that for me. I don’t have the best demeanor for raid leading – all the other officers take turns doing that. One handles sign-ups and scheduling, and we have a bevy of knowledgeable raiders who help to refine our strats and call things out mid-fight so that we can kill internet dragons. These things don’t run themselves.

What I’m skirting around saying but really want to say, is that there have been times when I really could have used a break. Times when my real-life was crazy, or sad, and people have stepped in to help keep things running. There have been times when I wanted to throw up my hands and take up a WoW career of pet-collecting. (The course of a true guild never did run smooth). I never did those things because ultimately the value of what I had – and the trust, and the expectations – were worth more than a brief break, even if I needed it. You may have stopped logging in for a week or two because you’ve grown bored of the game – the guild leader can’t do that. You may decide you don’t want to raid anymore  – the guild leader can’t do that. You may have a conflict with another member – the guild leader definitely can’t do that. Or if they do, they have to remain completely professional because it’s not just about you and them, it’s about what they want their guild to be and the respect they have for the people in it.

I don’t tend to lose my cool in pugs because I want the world at large to think well of my guild, and I am a representative of it. I don’t get in trade chat disputes, I try to establish contacts with other guilds on the realm. I do all of this because of how damned much I care.

You might wonder where I am going with this. I’ve read some things lately that have made me sad. Keeva is frustrated because she can’t find raiders who care the way she does and ultimately it may drive her to quit. Beru wrote something today that was subtle and poignant to me. The job we do is time-consuming, heart-wrenching, and often thankless. No, I’m not playing the martyr, it’s just a fact. There is no single person in your guild who cares as much as the guild leader cares, and if that’s not true – then it’s time to find another guild. I’ve been asked to expand on this statement because it could be vague and a bit misleading. I don’t mean that people in the guild don’t care. Of course they do! That’s what makes a guild great. I just mean that the extent of it comes with the position. Any guild conflict that arises is considered appropriate dinner conversation in our household. There’ve been times when one or the other of us will say, “Hey, let’s talk about something that doesn’t involve WoW.” I’m not even necessarily complaining there, either. It’s a volunteer job and a hobby and a passion that we share, and when things go right I am so proud. If a guild leader begins to care less than their members, they should seriously consider whether they do need to take a break or pass on the torch, because you have to care that much. Voss and I once had a discussion about what we’d do if any of our guildies were in trouble somehow, in real-life, and we could help. Would we help? I would help, every single one, because these are my people.

If you are in a guild that is struggling in any way – progression, conflicts, stagnation, lack of interest – before you complain (to the world at large, or to other guild members, the guild leader, or the officers) – first ask yourself: What have I done for the guild lately? Have I been logging in and chatting? Have I organized an event? Did I volunteer to take on some onerous task, run a guild five-man, write out a boss strat on the forums, or even just ask the guild leader or officers, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” or god forbid, “How are you doing?” There is no guild leader that can keep a guild steamrolling forward in the face of apathy and unrealistic expectations. The people in a guild are its lifeblood. If you aren’t part of the solution, there’s a good chance you are part of the problem.

Be part of the solution instead. And hug your guild leader (metaphorically) or just tell him or her what a great job they are doing and how much you appreciate them. I guarantee you it’ll make their day, and they don’t hear it nearly often enough.

Comments on: "On Leadership" (22)

  1. Wow. This struck me as very true and very well put. You’ve certainly given me something to consider.

  2. /Support this post!

    No one knows how much effort goes into a guild like another Guild Master. I wonder if I can spam the link to this post in guild chat to get them to come read this and appreciate all that I do for the guild.

    /Guild Masters United!

  3. I wrote about this last week. People want to understand, but they can’t and never will. When 6 or so people decide they don’t feel like logging in to raid, it’s the raid leader that gets to explain to the 22 people waiting for a decision that they don’t get to play that evening.

    Maybe I should let them all try it once or twice…. ideas… hmm.

    • Haha. I had a professor in college that taught art history. She was a petite, unassuming looking woman with a pixie hair-cut and a soft voice. She used a microphone to give her lectures. Well, at 5 PM when the class started she would lock the big wooden doors to the lecture hall. One day, she’d started talking. (knock, knock). A gentle knock sounded a the door. She kept talking. A few moments later – (KNOCK, KNOCK). She turned without hesitation and strode to the door, her heels clicking, threw it open and thrust the microphone into the face of the bewildered student standing outside.

      “Would you like to tell the rest of the people here why you’re late?” This person stuttered, stumbled, and just scrambled for a seat as far back as possible. Nobody was ever late again (or if they were, they sure as hell weren’t knocking).

      If the pressure and embarrassment of disappointing all those people was as strong, you might find it happening less often!

  4. As a member of Business Time I wanted to take this space to extol the job Vidyala has done as guild leader.

    In this post she talks about some of the hardships that guild leaders (and her specifically) have to go through. Well, she has done an exemplary job handling them and that’s something that can’t be said enough. I truly feel privileged to have someone who cares so much about the guild as our guild leader.

    The amount of time, effort, and energy that she has put into the guild is second to none. She not only handles the guild as a whole, but also makes the time to connect with people individually and ask them what’s been going on. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve come online after having a terrible day and have had her offer me words of encouragement.

    It would take a comment longer then the actual blog post to describe all that she has done for the guild, but the bottom line is this. She cares!

    I’ve always been honored to be a member of Vid’s guild and this post only makes me so much more proud to be a part of Business Time.

    • Vosskah said:

      I just read Vid your comment on the phone and you made her cry. She said: “Dammit, I just sniffed a tear up my nose!”


      • She said: “Dammit, I just sniffed a tear up my nose!”

        How do you do that, exactly?

        I’d like to steal that line for a story someday.

      • Haha. Well – you cry a tear and then it drops down your nose and then you sniffle because you’re crying and THERE IT GOES.

        You have my permission. I release all rights.

    • I wish I could have Vid as a guild leader! Seriously, BT sounds like a fantastic environment and warm, friendly team. 😀 I mean, sure, I’d probably get warned/demoted/gkicked after filling the guild bank with grey items or something, but it would be a fun time with good people and a dedicated leader before that! 😉

      • jlseverino said:

        Lol that gives me an idea of filling the guildbank with wintersping cubs and spelling the word cat with them.

  5. To think I thought about moving to another server because one of guild leaders of the 3 guilds I am in seem to not care anymore. This the time when this guild hasn’t killed all of the content bosses right now and its becoming annoying to see us start raids and killing bosses with only 20 raiders. I don’t know if anyone else suffers from what has made this expansion hard to find dedicated people. But the toll has made my 25 man raiding guild not raid for a week now. Yet officers nor guild management seem to have time to address the lack of interest they just assume people will show up next time. But don’t get me wrong its not like I haven’t tried to speak to them, suggest things and even offer to help out. It’s just they don’t follow the rules they implement and from what I gather they do from time to time but aren’t consistant enough. Thus members take them for granted. My problem is that I am too loyal for my own good so even if the ship is sinking and taking water I won’t leave till the ship is at the bottom of the lake, always thinking I could help make a difference. This sort of attitude is what makes my wow raiding life a living hell with the frustrations. Reading this article though has made me realize what might be happening in the 25 man raiding guild, what will happen in the 10 man raiding guild and what a great effort my other 25 man raiding guild are doing when everyone pitch in. Thank you.

  6. You’re doing a great job as my GM, Vi– oh, wait.

    Well, you’re doing a great job anyway.

    I suppose this means that I ought to tell Rades that he’s doing a great job as head of Puggers Anonymous, but he never seems to be on the server these days.

    All kidding aside, one thing I’d like to mention is that while it’s great to help out the guild, it’s not so smart to take on more work than you know you can handle. Know your limits, and don’t let the rest of the group down because you refuse to understand them.

  7. Bravo!!! This post captures the heart & soul of being a guild leader. I am extremely glad that I stumbled across this.

    Thank you for putting into words something I have been struggling to express for a while now.

  8. “There is no single person in your guild who cares as much as the guild leader cares, and if that’s not true – then it’s time to find another guild.”

    Sigh. I’m trying to do exactly this after joining a guild with officers who all basically said, “I don’t want to be leader. Someone else do it.” That’s such a disheartening, demotivating environment to join when you’ve been given a picture of an active, happy guild.

    And I see you’re recruiting my class! I’d so like to app if I could meet your raid times. 😦

  9. I’m not a guild leader or officer, just co-raid-leader for one of the raids, and I still found useful bits in it. Well written and timely!

  10. Well said, Vid!

  11. This could be my story. I took over as GM at the start of BC because I couldn’t stand by and see my friends get scattered to the wind by a guild break up. Having good officers to share the load and good guildies who surprise you with positive feedback when you need it most makes it all worthwhile. Keep up the good work!

  12. It might seem like I only contact you when I’m in the doldrums (as I’m sure the ratio of times I’ve just said “Hi!” to the times I’ve said “OMG Vid I’m going to quit!” is very lopsided) but the fact is, you’re an awesome friend and a fantastic, empathic, natural leader.

    I might not be in Business Time, but you always listen to me when I whisper you and you’re always ready with very sound advise. So even though you’re not my GM I, have a /hug for you anyway.

  13. Completely agree with this post. Guild leaders put so much time and effort into the guild and are rarely appreciated for it. They rarely get any reward for it. Once in a blue moon you may get a top realm kill or something but the work that goes on behind the scenes what with recruiting, website upkeep, member disputes, strategy devising and so many countless other tasks is way more than this. Well put Vid.

  14. I’m going to go hug my GM 😀 in game, of course.

  15. Came across your post today…and related to some of your experiences. I’ve recently been appointed GM of my Guild, and taking over the management thereof is almost just as much work as taking on an I.T. Project Management position in RL. Our guild has been slow, and current members who want to “just play” casually, rather than gather for raids, never mind collaborate for guild achieves, makes it imo frustrating (as in, hindered or held back….the true definition of frustration). Your post not just described much of what I relate to as a fresh GM, but gave me some inspirational ideas and pointers to follow regarding the true type of officers I need (to recruit), and what to expect when the time comes where I do in fact have a core of team-players built. I have a vision…and I refuse to deter from it…rather, I look for little inspirations like your post here to enforce my vision and help me become the leader blazing the trail, but in service to others. Thanks!

  16. […] blogger, community resource- that it’s sometimes easy to forget that she is a world-class raider, steadfastly leading her guild, Business Time, to heroic victory after heroic […]

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