Everything is Always Moving

There's a funny thing happening in my guild.

I logged on late the other night to hopefully luck into a quick instance run (didn't happen), and there were four people from my guild on. I didn't recognize any of them. I vaguely remembered reading someone's app from a little while ago, but that's all. I mean, I've seen them around, but this is the first time I had ever logged in and not known anyone who was online.

"Well, new guildies are good for the guild," I thought.

However, these people were chatting with each other over /g, and they all seemed to know each other pretty well. Even though I didn't know them, it was obvious that each of them was a good fit for the guild. We have a strange and fun guild culture, and it was obvious that they were steeped in it.

It felt like walking into my living room and finding four very friendly strangers there.

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Some GM Advice

I read a great article over at the excellent Chick GM about officer leadership styles and what makes a good officer. It made me think about what I valued in GMs and officers, and what I learned as GM.

It took me a long time to come up with my online leadership style, and longer still to identify pieces of what I was actually trying to accomplish. I've been a leader in multiple non-game places, but the MMORPG space is different. My guild suffered a bit while I learned, but eventually I got the hang of it. When it was time for me to hand the reins over, I came up with a list of directives and shared it with the subsequent GMs of my guild.

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Guilds are not Businesses

Guilds in these online games are completely voluntary, at-will organizations of people. This creates a strange dynamic when it comes to leading.

When I was GM, a good friend of mine in the guild–we'll call him Angus–was excellent at leading groups and raids. He wasn't shy about grabbing a couple of our more passive guildmates and making good things happen like attunement requirements, gear upgrades, and all the rest. In real life, Angus is a confident leader who runs his own business, with employees. His company is successful! I thought, "Wow, he'd be a great officer, maybe even GM!" So he got the nod as officer, and while he was gruff at times, he proved a great asset to the guild.

Over time, I learned that Angus had really been eager to take a shot at leading the guild. We frequently had open conversations among the officers regarding whose turn to lead was coming. So eventually, Angus got the nod.

The problem–and it took months for us to learn this–is that his ability to lead a successful for-profit business involves a completely different skill set than leading a successful voluntary, at-will organization. Angus turned out to be a good boss, but not a great leader.

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