Sitting on the fence, trying to figure out what I want from my gaming, now that I almost have the time to play and play hard, I’m constantly asking myself the question: “What do I want?” The answers used to change depending on my mood, but lately they’ve been converging.
I want in a guild:
– A project. Or rather, the opportunity to become involved in a project. I’m not vain enough to expect, or even want, to waltz in and take over an established group. But I do want to eventually be actively involved in pushing a group forward.
– A leadership team I trust and enjoy working with.
Why I want this:
I’m a good second. I’m not a visionary, I’m not a dreamer, I’m not someone who sees big. I am, however, easily influenced by other people’s visions and big dreams. I also really like planning, sorting, organizing. I like making dreams, other people’s dreams, a reality. (I missed my career calling, I should have become an investment consultant.)
I’m also not a passive player. Oh, I’m a little passive when I’m new, or when I don’t intend to commit. But once I’ve claimed a home, I’m one of those people who need to speak their mind, need to know everything and need to have a hand in everything. I don’t expect to control everything (despite being a bossy pally), but I’m at my happiest when in the eye of the storm. I lose interest very fast in “This is how things are and this is how things are going to be” environments.
Looking back at my guild-dating history (following my decision to regard my relationships with guilds the same way normal people regard their relationships with significant others. Not to be confused with dating-guildies. Which I swear I have never done and don’t plan on doing. Flings in foreign countries and Blizzcon dates don’t count. Yes, I like starting rumours.), what seems to have made or broke the relationships was always whether I subscribed to The Vision. If I could find A Vision.
I use the general word leader intentionally, instead of GM/GL, officer, healing lead, tanking lead, raid laid. To me, a leader is someone with A Vision and the ability to conjure that Vision in others. Sometimes leaders have official titles and roles, sometimes they’re just a face in the masses who happens to communicate good ideas well.
So then I pondered about those leaders I wanted to follow, those leaders who I followed then stopped and those folk who I never really thought of as leaders. What makes me believe in a leader?
There are a lot of bloggers who are guild officers and who offer advice from their experience. But you don’t often get followers who explain which traits attract their respect and, um, follow-ship. So here are the things that make someone a leader to me:
1- Communicates Well and Regularly – This is Number 1 for a reason: I can’t support something if I don’t know what I’m supporting. I constantly need to know what’s going on, not because I want to be annoying (while I do quite enjoy being a pest, my curiosity is not driven by my pestyness). It’s that in order to decide whether I’ll support and believe in an idea, I need to know the what, how and why of that idea. The leaders who’ve earned my respect are those who can answer those questions, and use those answers to convince me that their idea is a good one.
2- Sets Clear Expectations – I want to know what’s expected of me and of those around me. I want to know what my role is supposed to be. I have a pretty good sense of initiative and will jump in when I see a need, but it’s very difficult to be on the same page if I don’t know what the page is. And beyond that, in regular day-to-day guild life, I like consistency, I like when policies are enforced. When I don’t have to worry about expectations, I can focus my energy on things, like, oh I dunno…having fun.
3- Honesty and/or Integrity – I know when I’m being bullshitted. I might fall for it once. Twice if you’ve got that politician twinkle in your teeth. But after that I’ll figure it out. Most people pick up on lies quite quickly and on fake even faster. To be believed in, you need to be trusted. To be trusted, you have to be honest when it comes to matters relevant to the guild (luckily most people don’t care enough about your personal life to keep tabs on those lies unless they’re huge. Note: it is possible to tell the truth and be gentle at the same time!) and you have to practice what you preach.
4- Knows How to Say No – Saying “no” properly has two components. One in actually delivering the refusal and the second is delivering it a way that makes the receiver say “thank you“. Developing skills for both those components is pretty crucial to earning respect. And it’s especially important in dealing with people like me. I offer a lot of suggestions and a lot of feedback. I expect to be listened to. I expect to be listened to, but I also expect to be told “no” when I’m wrong, when I’m unreasonable and when someone has a better idea. It’s also pretty hard to respect a person who lets others walk all over them, who runs from conflict instead of solving it.
5- Enthusiasm – You know those shock value blogs that consist of guild or raid leader bitching about their guilds? And those GM’s who’s #1 advice to new GMs is “Don’t do it“? I love reading those bloggers, but I feel sorry for everyone in their guilds. And I’d never consider joining their guilds. Now I understand temporary frustration and I don’t mind being a shoulder or a pep talker (in fact, I actually really enjoy it), but I want a leader with a generally positive attitude. A leader is someone selling me a Vision. I won’t buy the Vision from someone miserable. If you want my subscription to your leadership, then show me that you’re worth my energy, that you enjoy what you do and that I won’t have to spend my game time nagging you to do your job.
And those are the 5 traits of the leaders I want to work with. I wrote in a gaming context, but I think it applies to just about every group-related part of my life. I tried to avoid the word “like” as much as possible, since respecting and liking are two different things. Generally I’ll like the people I respect as a leader, but there are many individuals who respect people they don’t like. I can, however, like someone whom I don’t think of a leader.