Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Left Claw guild leadership thoughts

We're in a really good place in the guild right now, perhaps the best we've ever been. I feel that we're doing a decent job in terms of strict 10 progression while continuing to have fun and genuinely enjoying each others company in a drama free guild.

And get this, we're not recruiting! Awmigawd! I can't remember the last time we weren't short raiders. We used to often be short one or two folks and have to bring in friends but our raids have been full for a while now. I think we have the perfect number of raiders right now in that we're even one or two folks over on our Thursday night raids, our most popular nights. I feel really good with this as summer vacations and pre-Cataclysm lull roll around where I think more folks will be out now and then.

Kalthan mentioned to me the other day that he has been surprised with how little drama our guild has. I mean, we do have our moments of drama every now and then. But I can only really think of two big drama moments in the three years I've been in this guild. For the most part though, we're pretty drama free.

I do think that guild drama of some sort is inevitable from time to time because there are real people involved. Though most of what comes up in our guild, I would really hesitate to call it drama. It's much smaller than "drama". What's smaller than drama? Dram-ette?

I honestly can't say whether this is due to guild leadership or just plain dumb luck in the people that we're gathered together. Now I have never been a guild leader, and I have no interest in doing so. Jess said to me once that I would make a good guild leader, which made me spew my coffee halfway across the room. There is no freakin’ way I would make a good guild leader because I am too instinctive in showing how I feel. I say it how I see or feel it, and don’t cut enough corners.

Seriously, me as a guild leader? Scary. Just ask my guildies. I actually prefer the position where I'm in now, with Jess as the official GM but where I just tell Jess what to do. It's all the power with none of the responsibility! Hahaha.

I know that a lot of folks have blogged about guild leadership, but I think a lot of them have been from the perspective of the guild leaders themselves. How about a perspective from someone else? Some thoughts around what I think we do well or try to keep in mind:

1. Recognize when guild drama is brewing

How do you recognize drama so you can pre-empt it or address it before anything spills over? Be aware of little things, and be on the lookout for how people react to things. I do think we have an advantage in that most of us have been together for a long time. We know each other pretty well. So I can see when something may be bothering someone by their tone on vent or whether they are speaking too much or too little.

I think this is also where you use your officers. Jess likes to call us the consogliere, which is some mob term for the right hand man. I think sometimes folks may not want to go to the guild leader with every little thing that comes up. Folks may prefer to your officers with some things. I know that I get whispers a lot of times that Jess doesn't get.

2. Realize and understand individual personality differences

Some folks may do better by being upfront and cutting to the chase, others you may have to be a bit more gentle with. But I think the best guild leaders are folks who recognize people's personalities and know how best to approach someone. I think Jess is genuinely good at recognizing differences amongst guild members and tailoring the approach accordingly.

3. Know how to give constructive advice

This is something that can be difficult for a guild like ours, one that really started as a true casual guild that has grown over time into a semi casual but semi serious strict 10 raiding guild. How do you say things that might need to be said without hurting someone's feelings? Jess I think is pretty good at this (much better than I could be), and part of it I think is because of #2 above.

4. Care, but not too much

This one is hard. I think a guild leader has to care about the guild, whether that includes guild success or guild harmony, but beyond that I think the best guild leaders actually care about the individual guild members. They've built personal relationships with the guild members so that there is a mutual trust and respect.

Though there is another side to this. I think you have to be careful not to care or stress out too much. Its hard not to get too emotionally invested and to keep some measure of distance/objectivity. I guess some of this could be individual differences, because I just tend to let things roll off my back. If you're stressing out too much or if guild stuff is keeping you up at night, take a step back and maybe ask your officers for some help.

5. Admit when something isn't working and when its time to cut your losses

I think this may be the hardest lesson to keep in mind, and we clearly failed at it. Its easy to equate a /gquit or /gkick with failure when it really isn't always a failure. Guilds change, people change, and some people just aren't right for a guild. Sometimes its better for everyone involved to cut your losses and move on. While there has been some drama every time someone has left our guild, its immediately clear afterwards that it was the best for everyone involved.

So there are some Left Claw thoughts around guild leadership. Am I thus saying that Jess is a good GM? Um, uh, er... ok twist my arm. Jess isn't half bad. But only cuz I'm telling Jess what to do. =)


  1. OMG! When did you start running Monolith?!?! ;-)

    Cause Brade is totally the GM, but uh...I totally tell him what to do too! Unless I don't want to deal with the problem. Then it's totally "talk to Brade". >=)

    I think I can use the word "totally" like...5 more times in this comment!

    In all seriousness, it sounds like you've got a great place there, K...but only because everyone knows who's *really* in charge! Muwahahaha

  2. "Jess isn't half bad."

    Heh. You need to know K to know that that is actually a significant compliment. Thanks. ;)

    Yeah I have my consigliere, but K is what they call my "wartime consigliere" -- she's right there to deal with any conflict.

  3. "Care, but not too much"


    Obviously, I am not a GL, I am just somebody who makes a lot of noise about things that strike me, which I think probably makes a terrible guildie but, like you, I enjoy whispering in ears like some kind of spider ;)

    As ever, I think your insights are bang on the money but the point about not caring too much is pure gold. From reading blogs and seeing a few guilds in action, I think a lot of GMs get stuck in the the sort of thinking that if they only care enough, it'll somehow make the difference. Like they're in some sort of abusive relationship with their guild or something...

  4. @Beru: Back seat GMs FTW! Though honestly, I bet most GMs have someone in our role.

    @Jess: Hahaha. It amuses me (and surprises me, though I shouldn't be surprised by now) how well you really know me.

    I think you and I play the good cop, bad cop (obviously me) roles well.

    @Tam: Yep, I think maybe most GMs fall into the trap of caring too much as opposed to caring too little. I think that perhaps if you stress out or get too emotionally invested in guild drama, #1 it's not healthy for you and #2, you may not be able to make the best decisions as the GM.