11 Reasons Guildmasters Fail

11 Reasons Guildmasters Fail

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Guy Kawasaki tweeted a link to an article that caught my eye. It was a psychology blog called PsyBlog. Long time readers know that after WoW and tech blogs, I frequently read psychology, blogging and personal development blogs.

So what exactly did I read? 7 Reasons Leaders Fail is the original post.

Already you can see where I’m going with this. I noticed characteristics highlighted in the article that were exhibited by leaders I had in the past. So in this post, I want to apply some of the reasons listed on PsyBlog to WoW leaders and add a few more of my own.

Strict Hierarchies

This is the first reason listed in the PsyBlog post. Here’s a typical hierarchy of a raiding guild:

  1. Executive (GM)
  2. Advisors (Officers)
  3. Raiders
  4. Everyone else (Socials)

Some of my former GMs in the past were stubborn and not open to using methods that would make life easier for them and the raid. Often times, the raid would “play dumb” and did what the boss said (which includes me). We assumed he knew best when it wasn’t always the case. He set up the pulls, assigned the healers, organized positioning and did everything else himself.

A present Warlock in my guild alerted me today that he could tack on Detect Invisibility on several players to help spot for those pesky black shades that seemingly appear out of nowhere in Naxxramas.

Poor Decision-Making

This is number 2 on the PsyBlog. Let the experienced veterans make some calls. Some people aren’t cut out to make certain decisions. I should never be allowed to setup pulls or mark targets (as Hassai so kindly reminds me). I should leave that to the tanks. I should not be setting up crowd control targets. I Should not be the one calling out Battle Res targets. There are other players in better positions who can make effective calls quicker than I.

Let your best people do the jobs they are suited for. Focus on your individual strength. My strength relies on healer organization and assignments.

Something I pride myself in is the ability to ask questions. If I’m unsure about a mob pull or an item, I’ll ask the experts. I expect them to give me precise information so that I can make the right call.

Impossible Standards for Leaders

Here’s a good one. The reason says it all. Leaders are expected to know every little thing.

We don’t.

We’re only human. It is so true it is scary how accurate this statement is. I’m expected to know optimal Mage DPS rotations, tanking orders, MD targets, gear choices and so forth. I’m not exactly a walking WoW Wiki. A few of the qualities leaders are expected to posses, according to PsyBlog, are integrity, persistence, humility, competence, decisiveness, and ability to inspire.

So where do I stack up?

Here’s my self evaluation out of 5 (with 5 being the most and 1 being the least).

  • Integrity: 5
  • Persistence: 3
  • Humility: 5
  • Competence: 3
  • Decisiveness: 4
  • Ability to inspire: 2

(Note: Guildies may comment without fear of reprisal)

Treating People Like Crap

It’s a simple concept. If you treat people like crap, you can expect crap performance. I don’t like to yell but I can and will speak firmly at times in order to crack the whip. In this case, my guild is also my boss. If they don’t like me or my performance, nothing is going to stop them from departing. I don’t want them to leave. I want to foster a friendly yet professional environment. But I can’t afford to be too friendly as you’ll find out later on.

Psychology of Followship

This is another intriguing point from the PsyBlog. What makes people follow someone else? I think it’s important for GMs to ask themselves why these people are following them and why they trust them. GMs are obviously doing something right. If they weren’t, then members would be sporting a different tag. This is especially true in WoW where leaving and joining guilds can be done in mere seconds.

Like people who think alike will generally do similar things. I want to kill Arthas. I want to do it on these days. I want to take this approach. I have over 20 members who have a similar stance. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be here.

Lack of a Presence

Leaders need to show themselves. They need to be visible. When BC came out, my GM was hardly ever around. I thought he didn’t care about the game. He didn’t have any plans for Karazhan. In my next guild, on the day we were working on Gruul, my GM wasn’t in the raid. He was out farming on Elemental Plateau instead of being with us killing Gruul. We had to pug a player for his spot.

What am I doing following someone who doesn’t seem to care about this game as much as I do? Is this someone I really want to follow?

No Confrontation

If you have a player who is performing poorly or is behaving poorly, they need to be spoken to and the situation needs to be resolved. I’ve had leaders in the past who did not have the spine to call their bluff. I think a GM needs to be prepared to remove anyone from their organization if the situation ever demands it. Be prepared to sit a player out. There will be times when the success of a raid rides on a single player’s performance. If they can’t hack it, they need to be told to sit for the night in favor of someone else.

If the guild I’m in ends up wiping to a single boss for 15 straight tries and the rest of the guild feel that it’s the result of one person, then something’s got to change. Maybe they’re disconnecting like crazy or having computer issues. Whatever the reason, it has to be fixed. The raid must go on. As much it sucks for me having to make the call, I have to be prepared to do it. Even if its me.

Alienation

In a recent post I wrote about Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids, AltoholicsAreUs wrote:

The only thing you MIGHT have to watch out for now, is “cliques”, meaning groups of people who plow through the ten mans to farm or obtain gear, but do not allow newer or outside members of your guild to participate.

I’m not the best baby sitter in the world. I got kicked in the groin once by my little “buddy” in grade school. Cliques are going to crop up no matter what and there’s very little that can be done to put a stop to it. You could try, but the clique could react in a bad way. The GM and officers need to be intimately aware of the guildies around them and attempt to include them in guild wide activities such as Lake Wintergrasp. Check in with players from time to time to see how they’re doing.

No Enthusiasm

A GM needs to have a level of energy and passion for something like this. No matter what you do in life, be passionate about your interests. If you’re not, then you’re not doing what you like. Seth Godin’s a great speaker because he’s passionate about what he does. Garr Reynolds is a greater presenter because he excels at speaking and presentation delivery. A great Starbucks barista separates herself from the rest by adding the little swirly thing to my venti sized iced double chocolate chip mocha frappucino!

They all love what they’re doing. I love what I’m doing. I don’t have to be skilled at hockey to be passionate about the game. Are your GMs passionate about what they’re doing? Are you?

One of my new recruits appeared to be delighted when he found out I wrote a WoW blog and contribute to WoW Insider because it demonstrates that I like what I’m doing.

Empathy and the Lackthereof

Some GM’s I’ve had were self centered and self absorbed. They weren’t capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others or just plain didn’t care. Now I may never be able to wear the shoes of Brio or Hassai when it comes to tanking business. I do try to make a concerted effort to listen to them and see where they’re coming from if they feel the need to say anything. Don’t ignore your guys and don’t brush them aside.

General Ineptitude

Some people just should not be trusted with leadership. It’s sad to say, I know. Not everyone is capable of being a Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods. Not everyone is meant to lead. Whatever the reason is, bad leaders will eventually lead to a fractured organization that will have no future as a worst case scenario. Maybe they don’t have the social skills or the time. Perhaps they can’t take the disciplinary actions required to do something. If a guild loses faith in its leader and no longer has confidence, something needs to change before it deteriorates further.

Where does this leave us?

I can’t just talk the talk. I have to walk the walk. If I can’t back up my words or beliefs, then I am no better than some of the GM’s I’ve had in the past. But by being aware of what makes bad leadership, I can consciously make an effort to steer myself away from the behavior that made them that way.

I’m in a unique position since I have several bloggers in my guild who aren’t afraid to call me out and keep my honest. It’s in my best interest to not suck and to do the right thing. I can’t just hold myself accountable to my guild. I also need to hold myself accountable to my readers.

Here’s a challenge for the WoW bloggers and readers out there.

What makes your GM great?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Whether it’s stories about bad experiences or good experiences, others including myself would surely benefit.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

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