It is time to continue the series of samples from The Guild Leader’s Companion 2nd edition. We’re discussing the role of the organization leader! If you missed the first and second samples from chapter one you should read them before diving into this one.
1.1 – The Organization Leader (Part three of three)
Being serene and transparent is incredibly important—but they’re useless if you’re absent. I can’t stress enough how important face time and general Availability are to your online organization. I’ve done both a good job and a bad job with it over the years. If you are not around, your members will assume you have lost interest, and they might start to do the same. Being a consistently visible leader is extremely important. Log in for at least a few minutes every day, as this will set your “last on” timer to today. You should attend as many of your organization’s scheduled events as possible in order to show your support, even if it isn’t something that interests you particularly. Participate actively in your own forums or in the official server board so you can keep abreast of everything that is happening. Most importantly, just be sure that if people need you, they can reach you. That means e-mail, IM, or even text message. You’re the leader! Expect that role to bleed into reality just a bit. This can be tough to do as you wear yourself out, and trust me, you will wear yourself out now and then. Just log in and be social with your team. Avoid the activities that can be reasonably delegated for a little while so you can control the burnout. If you can’t relax and find the joy of being there for your organization, you might need to consider a long-term solution. Always remember that even if you’re not constantly engaged, just being available will go a long way in building your members’ confidence in you. If you are physically unavailable for a long time or just phoning it in eventually that confidence will disappear and you’ll be forced to make a tough decision about what you want to do for the long term.
Availability also goes well beyond being physically present. There is a relational component to the term availability that is critically important to the successful leader. If your members cannot reach you on a personal level, then they will feel just as detached as if you were not physically present. Everyone appreciates an individual with successful leadership qualities. With that said, you will find that people love a leader all the more when they can connect with him or her on a level deeper than “Go here and do this.” Your team members want to feel like they have your ear; it is important they know that you do listen to them and that their opinions matter. If they don’t feel any emotional availability in you, they won’t be happy. As their leader, you have to be there for them physically and personally.
Flexibility is another trait that you’re going to have to pick up pretty quickly. Every organization has a particular culture, and most members will do things in a manner fitting that culture. However, just because some player interactions are predictable doesn’t mean everything will always go smoothly. Sometimes new players will have culture shock, or they may bring along a better method by which to achieve something. Be prepared to change. Online games are notorious for their ability to change from one day to the next. Your old methods may no longer apply, but being stubborn and sticking to something that no longer works will mean the proverbial death of you and your organization. Know not only when to stand firm but also when to react and take a new road. Evaluate the changes that might need to be made and make the best decision you can. Over time, you’ll start to build a rhythm for when it is important to bend and when it is important to stonewall. By showing that you are flexible, you’ll increase your availability with your team and your members will see that you’re always trying to do what is in the best interest of the whole organization.
As the highest executive of your organization, your members are going to expect you to treat them with Fairness in all aspects of online life. This bleeds into every area of business, from recruitment to loot and from dispute resolution to officer selection. Everyone wants to be treated equitably. Being fair can be somewhat tricky, as what is truly fair might not be perceived as such. Being perceived as fair can actually mean being unfair in reality. Generally speaking, you need to favor your members over officers and officers over yourself. That’s right, you come last. Even if you are fair, members will perceive nepotism if you reward your friends or fellow managers. Your last concern should be yourself. Be transparent in all these decisions and you’ll be seen as more fair. Keep notes and build stores of information so that if comes to a point where you have to make a decision, you have evidence to support your choice. Most of all, remember that popularity and perceived fairness are usually not the same thing. Do what is right, not what is most popular.
The STAFF acronym and the virtues it represents are the guiding principles on which I base all my leadership. Over the years, it has continued to be a useful tool for me. I will often pause before I do something and consider if I’m being serene or not. I will look at my action and try to be sure it is transparent enough. I also work very hard to be sure that I am available whenever possible. Finally, I work to be both flexible and fair with my team members. It is all a delicate balancing act, but just showing that I’m trying is often enough for my team. We can never hope to be perfect. We just have to aim high and get a little closer each day.
Thank you for taking the time to read this preview. If you would like to know more about The Guild Leader’s Companion 2nd edition and keep up to date with its launch please check out the product page on Epic Slant Press.