Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader


Where do all the officers and leaders come from? I mean, they all started somewhere right? As people become leaders the workload shifts and changes for them. The community over at PlusHeal has an entire section devoted to leadership. Tools of the trade, tips and tricks, and most importantly in my opinion how to make the transition from raider to officer or healing lead. Today I’ll talk a bit about making the transition and some of the obstacles you will face as well as share some of my personal experiences with you.

A little background, I spent most of my time in Vanilla WoW and in Burning Crusade as a raider switching from DPS to Healing when Burning Crusade came out. Partway through Burning Crusade our Heal Lead and Raid Officer left the game. In his absence I was asked to take over Heal Lead and shortly thereafter was awarded the rank of officer in his place. It wasn’t expected and I had to make the transition quickly. We finished out Burning Crusade and then headed off to Northrend to go say hi to Arthas. Here’s some things that changed.


One of the first things most people tackle is the list of addons they run. After being put in charge of healers or a raid you’ll find yourself having to monitor a lot more things. It’s imperative you sit down and decide what information you need readily available to you at all times. Here’s some addons I found useful when I first started out

  • BigBrother – Like Orwell’s 1984, this see’s all and then reports it to you or the raid. This mod lets you check for buffs like flasks and other consumables as well as lets you know when CC like Shackle or sheep has been broken and by who. This is a great tool to make sure you’re raiders are using their consumables.
  • RaidCooldowns – This addon allows for you to track all the abilities with cooldowns in a raid. This will display battle rezes, innervates, Divine Hymn, Lay on Hands etc. For a complete list click the link and visit the site. Some trackable abilities like a Shaman’s Reincarnation require members of the raid to be running oRA2, CTRA, or RaidCooldowns itself  in order to display properly, however if you’re in a raiding guild, chances are your team will already have one of those.
  • CastMonitor – This lets you place a movable list of players that you can then monitor their target, as well what spell they are casting. This is great when you want to double check your healers are on the right targets or doing what they are supposed to.
  • Cellular – In your new position you’re going to be getting a lot of tells, no two ways about it. People will be confirming assigments or just checking to make sure they did ok. Cellular (or any similar mod) lets you keep them like AIM message windows and they stay nice and tidy. Helps make sure you don’t miss any important tells.

My UI is constantly changing. I’m removing and adding items frequently to find a mix that will give me all the information I need in a pretty package. Find what works for you to give you what you need.


I’m going to focus more on the healing aspect of it here, but the ideas stay the same for all of a raid. You are now responsible for the instruction and care of a team.You’re not going to have eight of the same class with the same spec (if you do please let me know I’d be curious at that one). Take time to familiarize yourself with the various healer classes and specs in your raid. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Specs present in your heal team and take the time to learn the encounters your team will be facing. Learn the mindset of your healers and don’t be afraid to ask them questions., after all they should have a commanding knowledge of their class. You’re in a position where you need to know whats going on and need to tell people to do. Knowing your healers mindset and asking for their input goes a long way. I make it a point to encourage my heal team to offer constructive ideas when things go wrong or are not working as well as they could be.

There are several threads over at PlusHeal that deal with how to assign people, who is better suited for what and more of the ins and outs of the various specs. My suggestion, spend time on forums like PlusHeal and see what you can learn. There is a plethora of information available to help you fill in your knowledge gaps from various strategy sites and different forums all over the internet.


This is something that I thought was the easiest part of the transition. You are a central point of communication for your raid. If you are Heal Lead, all of those healers report to you and you in turn report to the raid leader. It’s important to have ways to get information to everyone that needs to have it quickly and efficiently. For healers having a dedicated healing chat channel helps. In the same vein, class or role specific chat channels are a good idea. My guild has one channel for every class as well as one dedicated to healers and one for tanks. This allows us to easily hand out information and gives collective spots to have questions asked and answered. As a heal lead you’ll want to sit in the tank channel too. This lets you know who is going to be eating what hits and allows you to quickly and effectively assign healers for maximum effect. You are the communications hub, keep that in mind.

Sometimes raiders need to call in sick so to speak, or they’ll need information that isn’t readily available on the forums and needs an immediate reply. For this reason I have my contact information posted on the guild website. This includes my email address, AIM (msn, icq and yahoo as well),  and phone number. I’ve had several instances where I’ve been thanked by raiders for being so accessible. As another rule of thumb I have an open door policy. Anyone can come to me at anytime for anything and I’ll do what I can to help, and if I can’t I’ll do my best to find what they need or point them in the right direction.

Finding a Balance

This to me is the hardest thing a new heal lead or officer needs to do. You have to keep in mind that this is a social game. You have been dealing with at least two dozen other people for a long time and have more then likely made a few friends. When you get elevated to a position of authority sometimes it’s hard to find the line between what a friend would do and what an officer would do. In the same vein it’s often hard for people to distinguish that when looking at you. They have to understand your dual roles. Keep in mind that you are in a position of authority. You have a responsibility now to keep things moving and working at a good pace. Sometimes you will have to put friendship aside and tell a person no, but at the same time you don’t want to be so much of a jerk that no one likes you. You have two distinct roles, a friend and a leader. Let me give you an example of what I mean by finding a balance.

In BC when we were still clearing Mt. Hyjal, I was new to being a heal lead and officer. I was fairly quiet in vent aside from the friendly jibes and conversation, and I had a little less authority in my assigning of healers. Plainly put I was too nice. This came to a head when we were wiping on Archimonde. I kept seeing the same 4 people standing in the fire. After a night of wipes that had followed a week of wipes, I finally dropped a set so to speak and piped up on vent. I was assertive and authoritative in my tone. I thought I edged past normal limits and into jerk territory when everyone on vent was deathly silent. The statement was something like this

“Really? Seriously? You’re still standing in the fire? Come one people! Turn! Move! Stop whatever you are doing and move. Don’t finish your cast, don’t try to get one more instant off just turn on your heels and run. It’s not rocket science just do it. That’s all this fight is. Move. Out. Of. The. Damn. Fire.”

Next attempt saw a 25% improvement in dps on the boss (from 49% to 24% boss health) then we called it for the night. We came back and stomped him into the ground the following attempts. I received a lot of thank you tells that night. I still thought I stepped out of line. More recently I had a raiding healer whose spec was brought to our attention as not being ideal. It was missing key features we needed from that class. I was real life friends with this person for many years. The guild leader and the Class leader approached him about it before I was out of work, and he was quite upset. He turned to me on AIM and I told him I’d talk to them and see what’s up. After a lengthy discussion I agreed something needed to change. I informed the raider that yes, it would be appreciated if he respeced as the raid needed the particular talents he was missing. As a friend he expected me to back his position fully, but as a healing lead and officer I had to agree with what was better for the raid and for progression. Notice the word “was” I used when referring to my friend? He was unable to see that I had two roles and has decided that speaking to me in a non official capacity isn’t to his liking any longer. He still gets the job done and responds well to assignments, but holds a bit of a grudge. It’s very difficult to find that balance of being someone’s friend while still being an authority, its something we all constantly have to recalibrate.

How about you? Any tips for new leaders you’d like to share? Any stories about your own rise to being a leader?

That’s it for now. Until next time, happy healing!


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About Lodur

Lodur is the right hand shaman to Matticus on World of Matticus, and a recruiting officer of Conquest and Co-Host of For the Lore podcast. Read more of his works at WoW Insider.


  1. Nice post! It is indeed difficult at times to be an officer. I’m too nice as well but I’m trying to work on that. I accept constructive criticism but not something like “We need more healing”. Tell me how, tell me who, tell me what and I’ll see what I can do. If there is 1 tip I can give is, trust yourself. You’ve been promoted for a reason, don’t doubt yourself. If you think the assignments or decision you made is the right one, it will probably be the right one.
    Tactic for killing Kologarn, I said we’d remain with the tactic “rightarm-boss-rightarm-boss”, we just needed people to move from the beams. After lot of QQ the gleader went for the tactic others were asking for “rightarm-leftarm-rightarm-leftarm”. I thought-think- that tactic wasn’t going to work. And it didn’t, after 2h of horrible whiping we went back to the tactic I defended and guess what? We 2 shotted him.
    Healing on Mimiron, A healer was asking for more aoe healing while I thought we had more then enough healers to manage. I didn’t change it because honestly, 2 druids 3 shamans will do… And we killed Mimiron.

    You need to trust yourself, but also listen to other people making suggestions.

    Finding a balance is indeed the hardest part… I’ve had a lot of troubles with that. Lead to big drama (not gonna say more but it was BIG drama). A friend of mine expected me to tell him things about officer discussion and I refuged. He got quite mad about that one. Other situations as well are putting people in place for their attitudes, decisions made by officers where my friends come to complain towards me,…

    All I can say is, be firm but not agressive, and believe in yourself!

    SuicidalPriests last blog post..Ulduar loot and tier 8 stats

  2. I kind of lean towards the thinking that leaders are born and not made. Some people have the capability of being a leader, some don’t. It shows you have the leaderships skills when you see a line and know when it is stepping in the wrong side of it, even if it is necessary at times.

    A reluctant leader is more of what I am in the game now. I take responsibility seriously even in a game, so being main tank was not what I was setting up to be when I was leveling my warrior. It ended up that way and I do enjoy a lot of aspects of it, but I still have a hard time dealing with failure.

    I do think that everything that is learned in the game when it comes to leadership can be applied in real life. That has been one aspect that I truly enjoy about the game. Great post.

    logtars last blog post..Taking my orphan around

  3. My take is: If someone isn’t yelling in vent, then you’re not doing hard enough content for your guild. 🙂

  4. Going from the rank and file to a a leadership role is usually fairly tough. This is why many companies/corporations will transfer you when you get promoted. It removes a lot of the early pitfalls that can come from now leading and supervising the folks you were running around with the night before.

    As far as leaders being born, I think this is partially true. I’ve also seen someone who we thought couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag become a truly great raid leader and officer.

    Also, I completely agree that good officers in the game generally make good supervisors outside of it.

    Adgamorixs last blog post..Nicked by the razor

  5. Nosscire says:

    The single most important thing that i’ve noticed during my time as an guild officer and raid leader is to not call people out on their mistakes in public.

    If half the raid is standing in the fire or whatever you can do some shouting on vent/raid chat, but never call specific people out. Take that in whispers. s

    If you tell someone off on their mistakes in front of everyone else, you are also humiliating them. That is very rarely a good tactic. You will end up with raiders/guildies with a grudge to you.

    “Hey man, I noticed that you were standing in the fire again, can you please pay a little more attention so that we can down this boss?” in a whisper is much prefered to:

    “Nah, it was John that f***ed us up again, no matter how many times I tell him he still stands in the fire” in vent.

  6. My tips, free of charge: 😛

    Always stay humble, calm and friendly but at the same time be precise, decisive and efficient. Always listen to the people you lead and make sure they know when it is the time for suggestions or discussions. Know when and how to push.

  7. @ The guy who said you shouldn’t call people out —

    I would say it depends. I consider myself a pretty calm and collected raid leader, partially because I can’t yell since I raid when other people in my house are sleeping.

    Still, if someone messes up, I say it in Vent. My chat box is spammed 24/7, and in between doing other things and responding psts and officer chat, there simply isn’t time for me to type a polite message to whoever is messing up.

    I call people out all the time, and it hasn’t gone too wrong for me. As long as you aren’t insulting/degrading with it, you can get away with it and noone is any angrier.


    Macbooks last blog post..Slight Change to My Moonkin Talent Build

  8. Phaedra says:

    I’m an officer and my husband isn’t. Most times, to works to my guild’s advantage, because my husband serves an “Everyman” purpose for bouncing ideas off of.

    However, I am also often the ML. And that’s when things gets a little tricky. He’ll ask me stuff about loot not in vent, which makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want our guildies to think he’s getting special compensation because he’s sleeping with the ML. So far, there have been no issues, but it hangs over my head. We’ve spoken about it and he’s going to work on being more public with our conversations.

    There are some definate unique issues when you’re married, raid together, and only one is an officer.

  9. You mentioned Cellular however I’ve had lots of problems w/it in the past (last time I used it was in December I think). The problem with it (which may have been fixed) is that if you get two tells at roughly the same time you will get one window for one person and the other tell is lost to the abyss. Which is really bad if you are recieving tells for loot.

    Xeonios last blog post..3.1.2 – Penance Glyph

  10. If people are not doing what they are supposed to I agree that you should be strict.
    “Skill” in this game is most often determined by the ability to know when to push your pewpew buttons, and when to move. If you can’t figure that out you should start wondering what the hell they are doing.

    About people with a faulty spec: They should accept the fact that it is wrong, if they can’t even back it up with good arguments then why keep them? You’ll only end up keeping a player with a gimped spec and thus gimped performance.

    I always try to remain social, but I won’t let the entire raidgroup be held back because 3 or so players don’t know what they’re doing.

    Edit: By being strict I mean don’t tolerate flaming to each other, or shouting. Tell them what has to be done and when they’re doing it wrong. Imo flaming and complaining serves no use and will not make them play better.


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