Guild Leadership – A Consolidated Guide
What does it take to run your own guild? Or maybe a better question is what does it take to run your own guild successfully? And define success? Is it community, progression, PVP rank?
Now I might not be able to define success for you personally, but with a few basic principles maybe you too can have a successful run as a guild leader.
First off let me get all the negatives out of the way, so you want to be a guild leader, well guess what you are the quarterback, and as we all know if the team loses the quarterback takes the blame. So if you are not comfortable with that step away now and find a guild to join and be a happy member in. But if that doesn’t deter you let’s get to the rest. Fights, squabbles and general annoyances, as a guild leader you are not guaranteed to like everyone in your guild as a best friend, some you may not even like to play with much for whatever reason, but the question you need to ask is can you put that aside in order to provide compromise to situation. Also you will hear complaints at least once from outside players about members of your guild, be prepared to listen to their concerns and address them in a calm manner, if you can’t you could hurt not only your reputation but that of the entire guild.
OK now that we have the unpleasantries out of the way, what do you need, what are the skills, the tools to be successful?
1. What is your guild about, what is your vision for the guild?
This is one of the most important things you need to consider. Do you want to be a hardcore raiding guild hell bent on progressing? Do you want to create a PVP dominant guild? Or do you want a relaxed casual atmosphere? You need to define this and make it very clear what your guild is, the worst thing you can do is advertise your guild as one thing, get members in and be something different. Doing a bait and switch is a sure fire way to watch members leave and your guild to crumble.
So take some time create a guild charter, it doesn’t have to be massive, but it does need to indicate what your vision is, and point people to it as they come on board, be open about what you want, and be realistic with your goals, saying you are going to be the new number 1 raiding guild in the world is lofty, but telling people you want to be a hardcore raiding guild and to focus on bleeding edge content is a good start. Leaving it more general leaves room to set goals later on once you start to form your guild and realize your potential.
2. Communication, how and when will you communicate?
In the digital age here we have tons of ways to communicate with one another, blogging, twittering, instant message, email, etc. In the game world its not much different. You have to cater to your audience and understand how best to communicate with your guild. Some may be in game 24×7, others will have jobs, families and need to know what’s going on outside of the game. So come up with a plan on how to communicate, how to get updates, changes and procedural updates into the hands of all your members not just a few.
One of the best ways is to communicate in game is to utilize in game mods or addons to facilitate guild wide messages using the in game mail service. Other ways is to update the guild message of the day and guild information sections for your members on a periodic basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.).
Another way is out of game communication. Setup a website, it doesn’t have to be flashy, get some web forums, maybe a news forums and post up the important information there. Let your members have access so they can communicate with one another outside of game. One thing I highly recommend is create a way to gather input and feedback. Never let people stew about issues, make sure you give them avenues to open up dialogue with guild leadership in a constructive way. Guild forums are also a great way to advertise yourself outside of the game to prospective members or allies. Marketing and advertising who you are lets people see what you are about before joining.
Another method of communication that blends in game and out of game communication is through the use of VOIP services like Ventrilo or Team Speak. This allows you to directly speak with your members and communicate and have a real dialogue vs. text based dialogue. These services are also very good at communicating instructions and strategies for raiding. In fact I would venture to say that any successful guild has access to either Ventrilo or Team Speak.
3. Governing your guild, how do you do it?
First off a 100% democracy is not going to happen. Remember you will never get 100% participation from everyone. The best thing to do is set policy changes and communicate with the guild (see section 2 above) regarding changes before enacting them, give people time to respond and ask questions. But in the end do what you feel is right for the guild with the consensus of your officer corps.
Running a guild needs to be somewhat of a Dictatorship, but you need to mix some democracy in, a Dictatorocracy if you will. Whether you lead yourself or share leadership with your officers, it needs to be one voice and one direction from you and the officers, if there is dissention there it will be hard to get the other members to follow. So communicate, communicate, communicate, but have one voice.
Never be wishy washy, be firm in what you want, people can smell fear and sense hesitation and just like a sports team its hard to follow a quarterback who is not confident in his or her next move.
4. Keep it fun
At the end of the day whether you are hardcore, casual or a mix, you are leading a group of people playing a game. A game is not work, it’s a game. Games are designed to be fun. The moment you take the guild down a path where its more work than fun, people will leave, people will stop showing up to events. So, talk to your members and see what they like, what they find fun and what they don’t. Try to work on making it fun for them on a continuous basis. On nights when you aren’t having a guild event (instances, raiding, PVP, etc.), try to keep guild chat fun, invite members to do something you are doing. MMOs are not about being alone, so invite people, if they don’t want to fine, but they see you are trying to keep them involved and do things other than the standard events.
5. Good people help keep your members coming back for more
Identify your good people, you may have 1 or 2 or several, but these people are the ones who joke around, help out, get others involved. Some may be officer material others not but these people keep playing the game fun and exciting (see point 4 above).
Bad people bring the entire morale of the guild down. So work at trying to keep them in line, but not too hard, 1 bad apple spoils the bunch is so true. In an online world where text based words can bring your guild down in minutes, remember if they are beyond redeeming, cut the cord and show them the door, because in the end they will hurt you more than they will help no matter how much skill or game knowledge they have. Attacking the guild policies, plans, or members never creates a fun atmosphere.
6. Always remember the golden rule of guild leadership…
You can’t please everyone all the time, just try to please most people, most of the time. Do that and you will be just fine.
Never take guild leadership too seriously. Know it’s some work, but it’s only a game and needs to remain fun for you as well.