So you think you have what it takes to be a guild leader eh? Well, let me be the first to dash all your hopes and dreams and suggest that you likely don't. Guild Leaders, and even moreso, Community Leaders - this new breed of animal that thrives on managing multiple guilds in multiple games all under the same roof - are a special type of person. As one who is a former of both types of leading, and who is deeply involved in the community I play with now, I can say for certain that you do not know or understand what you are getting yourself into. That being said - let me educate you on the ways of guild leadership - and if you come out the other side still thinking you have the chops for it, feel free to get cracking!
A Guild Leader Must Be Everything, To Everyone
Guilds and communities comprise sometimes hundreds of players, all with a different story. Different Races, sexual orientations, religions, political affiliations and nationalities will all have representative populations in your group. Not only does this mean you need to be completely open and accepting of all these types of people, it would help for you to have a slight understanding of these groups as well. I am not saying that you need to be an Islamic scholar to be a guild leader, you don't need to memorize the Qur'an. What I am saying is that it would be beneficial for you to understand, and appreciate, the days and the times of day that members of your community who practice Islam might not be available to play with you and your guild due to an act of religious observance. If you are male, it would certainly be helpful to understand and appreciate the nature of being a hardcore female gamer. Gamer girls are not only awesome in almost every regard (generally speaking), but most certainly are unappreciated and even occasionally abused once a bunch of nerdy dudes find out she's a female in real life. A guild leader doesn't need to be Jesus, you don't need to be omnipresent and omnipotent - but you do need to take on a little bit of background on everyone you lead. Doing this will give you the perspective of your players when situations arise where background knowledge may be needed - and trust me, situations WILL arise.
A Guild Leader Must Be A Fair, Clear-Thinking Disciplinarian
Do you have a gaming buddy that you have been playing with for a long time? I do - In fact I have a few. Would you be willing to kick your buddy out of your guild if he broke the rules? You need to be. There are two parts to this rule. Firstly - if you make rules, codes of conduct - whatever - that MUST apply to everyone and you must be a shining example of that code. If your wife/girlfriend/partner is in your guild - they MUST also be a shining example of that code (because lets be honest - as a husband, I have absolutely no desire to /gkick my wife) With that in mind though, you must be at least willing to remove anyone who cannot adhere to the rules and codes of your guild. If you play favorites you are playing with fire. People who know they won't be kicked, yet are the type who may be prone to breaking the rules occasionally, will not only become bad examples for the rest of your members, but also know that there is no ramifications for their deviant behavior. People who see you playing favorites will not only resent the preferred player, but will also resent you. Your ability to lead will come into question, and at times when you really need your team to pull together (the last boss of a raid for example) they will be less likely to follow your lead if they think you are a two-faced jerk.
The second part of this rule is a skill you need. A guild leader must be able to work out a problem, conflict, or disagreement, with logic - not emotions - and must also use easy to understand but very clear language when speaking about the issues. You must be able to work through a problem. This means understanding the issues and the background information (possibly playing into the first topic). This means you need to separate the moving parts and x-factors of the issue to determine the variables. This means being able to hear all sides of the story to find common ground and distill out the junk. And finally, this means coming to a mutually agreed upon resolution that, while everyone may not be happy with, everyone can accept and get behind to move forward. Frankly, if you can't do this - you won't be successful.
A Guild Leader Must Have Unwaivering Dedication
How are your time management skills? Good? Not likely good enough. Let me tell you how busy I am. I have a full time job. I also am the editor of a large gaming website where I am writing for about 10-15 hours a week. I also have to play the games I write about - extensively. Keep in mind we only cover MMO's here, I can't just play a game for eight hours, beat a game, then write a review about it. I also have to pop into the games I am NOT reviewing after a major patch and take a look at what is different or new. I send and receive about 100 emails a day between my personal and business emails. I'm not done yet... I am also a FULL TIME university student, taking TWO degrees at the same time. I have a wife, and a three year old son. Notice I haven't even talked about any of the work I do for my guild yet, or anything related to the games I play for fun. Am I busier than you? You bet your ass I am. I tell you all this not to brag, but to reinforce the idea that you need to be a supreme time manager.
As a guild leader you need to choose to make time for it and understand the sacrifices you will make in order to make this time. Any economist, or anyone who didn't sleep through economics in university, would understand the concept of "opportunity cost" Opportunity cost is the value of the path not taken (to put it simply) A guild leader needs to understand that being such is a major time and dedication investment that requires giving up other things to do it. To be frank - I don't care for the saying "real life comes first" when taking about gaming, and even more-so when it comes out of the mouths of leaders. When you choose to run a guild, you are choosing to be responsible for the fun and entertainment of yourself and the people you play with. People who use the saying "real life comes first" all the time, are the people who use it to get out of not taking responsibility for the choices and commitments they make. Real life does come first in many cases of course, if my son is sick, I'm not playing games, I am caring for him. But if I am expected to be online at some point when my son is sick - I would make sure that others are aware of the situation and keep them apprised. I choose to be an active and responsible member of my community - and I do so in full knowledge of the other things I need to do with my time. I am an awesome dad, and I don't think my son ever feels like I am ignoring him to play a game. What I do, is manage myself and my time, to get the most out of every hour of the day - in full knowledge of the opportunity costs associated with my choices. You can't drop everything you are responsible for because you have a paper due in class tomorrow and you are just starting it - you should have started it three weeks ago.
So, young padawan, do you think you have what it takes to be a guild leader? If you don't have the three things above, you don't have what it takes. If you pretend that you do it will only end in failure and disappointment - not only for you, but also for the people who put their trust in you to lead them. Don't screw people over simply because you want to be in charge and have everyone say hi to you when you log in. Everything I have mentioned here is learn-able. You can develop these skills. So go find a leader who has mastered these three things - and learn - follow - stalk them for all I care. Come back in a year and do it right.
Mike WashburnSo You Want To Be A Guild Leader?,