1. Being an officer is not a perk.
Folks, repeat it with me: being an officer is not a perk. It’s a job. Furthermore, it’s a second job in addition to your regular role as a player. If you want to be an officer because you think you get extra loot, leeway on making mistakes, and/or solely for the “power,” take a step back. Take a few steps back and fall into a hole, while you’re at it. Leading is for special people, people who are patient, passionate, and realistic. Video game or not, this is a hobby that is based on teamwork, and these are real people behind those pixelated gnomes and orcs. People need leaders. If you’re an officer of a guild, people are looking up to you to lead them, and if you aren’t in this job for the right reasons, you will fail these people.
Secondly, if you dread it, it’s not for you. Sure, it’s a lot of extra work, and sure, it can get really stressful at times. But you shouldn’t lead because you feel obligated, you lead because you love the people you lead.
2. Practice what you preach.
Create no rule you can’t follow yourself, and lead by example more than enforcement of your supposed internet authority. Don’t think you get leeway because you’re an officer. When you make a mistake or break a rule that you created, you lose all credibility when you try to enforce said rule you just broke.
3. Know your members.
This will also give them a chance to get to know and to trust you. Spend time getting to know people individually. Did Joestabbitystab have to miss a raid due to moving into a new house? When he logs on, ask him how it went. Talk about things besides game- and raid-related things. Make people feel like the cherished members they are instead of dispensable raid slots filled. If you develop good relationships with your members, it’s equally beneficial to you as well. It’s a proven fact that leaders who gain their peers’ respect and lead by friendship have a more stable and loyal group of followers, as opposed to people who lead solely by enforcing their authority and discipline.
4. Ask questions and request feedback.
You can’t know how you’re doing unless you ask how you’re doing. This guild isn’t yours; everyone who is a member helps contribute to its well-being, and you owe them the right to listen and then respond to their feedback. It’s a very important part of being an officer/GM that most people overlook. You’re not perfect, and you can’t see all sides to everything. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re the world’s best GM; if your guild doesn’t think you are, then you aren’t. And it’s your job to fix that.
5. Give people small tasks.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my experience of leading various groups, it’s that people love being given tasks. They love being recognized and feeling special. Even if it’s the most mundane task, it still makes a difference. Don’t make it a chore, either; word things in such a manner that they feel like you’ve chosen them specifically for this task, they’re helping the guild out by doing it. Healing leaders, let a healer you trust handle healing assignments one fight while you “have to afk for a few seconds.” Raid leader, have something that needs to be called out? Tell Sallyfrostboltz (okay, so I suck at names, all right?) to call it out for you; it’ll help you focus on more important things, anyhow. People who feel cherished are loyal and happy, and you want loyal and happy guild members.
6. Learn how people expect feedback.
That’s probably the hardest thing for most people to do because it really requires you to be good with reading people. Some people respond to different feedback in different ways. I’ve met countless people who are embarrassed and angry when you call them out in raid, and some would prefer you to say it as it’s happening. But above all, give constructive feedback. There’s no need to yell, belittle, or insult. If you are ever angry enough to feel it necessary to insult, step away from the computer and calm down. Nothing gets solved by yelling or insulting. It doesn’t even make you feel better. Regardless of how stupid people are being, regardless of the situation, it will never call for any of those things. Being stern is one thing, but insulting people is just immature.
7. Communicate. Be honest.
People need leaders, and people need leaders who are honest and have a spine. They don’t want a soft leader, someone too afraid to say the truth. Maybe the person you’re dealing with won’t like the bitter truth (who wants to be told they’re immature/bad/causing drama/etc?), but if you don’t deal with it, your guild will lose respect. People follow leaders because they don’t want to be the ones to weed out the bad people. It’s a crappy job, and no one likes it, but that’s part of your job. Don’t be afraid to tell people to step it up.
On a related note, “communicating issues” doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a bad thing. Know how to be honest without being hurtful, and how to be constructive and optimistic. Do you have a reliable, mature player whose dps just isn’t cutting it? No need to be rash and ugly; pull him/her aside, kindly tell him/her the issues in a laid-back, no pressure sort of way, and then list ways to help improve his/her play. Your guild expects you to handle these things, but they also expect that when it’s their turn to be confronted, you will be helpful and give them a chance to improve. But you can’t do any of these things without knowing how to communicate effectively!
8. Don’t focus on the negative.
You are the guild’s rock – the frame that holds the house together. Your emotions and attitude as a leader are contagious, so when you get upset and negative, people feel the tension. When things aren’t going well, people look to you to hold things together, to find something to be optimistic about. Regardless of how you actually feel, swallow it and put on a better face. If you don’t have faith in your guild, why should they?
9. Find things to give the guild a good sense of self.
Celebrate victories, mention inside jokes, bring back nostalgic memories. It makes people feel proud to be a part of the guild, makes it feel like a family. It gives them all something in common with each other, and something to help identify why they continue to remain a happy member of your guild.
10. Accept nudes for loot.
Don’t you know? It’s the biggest reason to be an officer. Everybody loves loot and everybody loves nudes; it’s a win-win situation!
On a completely unrelated and final note, this is the last of the “10 ways to.. ” post series, I promise! Well, maybe. If I do it again, I’ll just rename my blog to “Wordy Warrior’s Top Ten.” Also, I’m currently listening to Scatman. Told’ja so.