There's only so much a blogger can take before he has to set the record straight! Two of my August columns -- and, oddly enough, even some columns I wrote back in January -- all managed to stir up a bit of controversy last month. Some of my readers made very good points, some were flat out wrong, and some grossly misunderstood my intent. I'd like to address them one by one.
First up is Auz from the excellent blog ChickGM.com. She respectfully disagreed -- albeit vehemently! -- about my columns from early in the year about what to look for in a potential officer and what types of people to avoid promoting. Here's what she had to say about my criteria in a nutshell:
Don't create strict rules or boxes for your leadership. Some of the best leadership is done outside of conventional thinking and wisdom. To quote myself; "If you do what everyone else is doing, you'll end up where everyone else is."
First off let me say that Auz is right on the money about not putting artificial restraints on your choices. Part of being a leader -- perhaps the most important part -- is having good instincts about people and knowing when to trust your gut. I could name a couple of officers in my guild who at one time were on the verge of being booted from the guild. But I sensed an incredible potential in them to turn all that bluster and insubordination into positive energy and a will to succeed. Today I'm proud to have them representing the guild. One of them even turned into a very solid raid leader.
So I agree with her on that score. And I also agree with her that every guild has different needs. A guild leader should ultimately handpick officers based on the various required roles -- and those can vary quite a bit. An A-Team of four Murdocks would be a disaster, and so would an officer corps where every person has the exact same skill set and viewpoint.
However, I disagree that my criteria aren't valuable. Auz writes that generosity can be a double-bladed axe if the officer spends entirely too much time helping people, to the point where your members never learn self-reliance. And that's true. However, any single character trait, no matter how benign, can be harmful when it is taken too far.
Maturity can be harmful if the officer looks down on members who like to joke around. Good communication skills can be harmful if the officer doesn't know when to shut up and leave a situation alone for a while. Emotional intelligence can be harmful if the officer uses it to manipulate people. And even game knowledge can be harmful if an officer sticks too rigidly to a predetermined strategy, ignorant of the fact that it just isn't going to work for that particular group of raiders.
Even so, simply because such traits can be taken too far does not mean that they are not, in my opinion, the hallmarks of effective leadership. It is simply a matter of moderation, of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable. That's where your leadership instincts have to help you distinguish between who has the "right stuff" and who has so much of it that it scares you.
Likewise, Auz points out that some of the traits I identified as less than ideal can actually be good attributes. And once again, that is true. There will always be examples where a weakness, in the right circumstances, can become a strength. But there is a difference between an endearing quirk and a major character flaw.
I'm not saying that someone who gives off any of such warning signs is unfit for leadership. After all, everything is relative. Even a perpetually hammered officer can be effective if he or she happens to be the least hammered person online in a guild of heavy drinkers. Rather, I am suggesting that such traits should give you pause before you pull the trigger on a promotion. Think about how those traits might play out in real situations and whether or not they could lead to something catastrophic. You have to be aware of these warning signs before you can act on them, but ultimately you have to trust your instincts.
I recommend Auz's post as a very good evaluation of how tricky it can be to choose officers and how you must tailor your leadership choices to your own unique needs. However, I also stand by my criteria, which, more often than not over many years of leadership, I have found to be extremely relevant.
The next column that got people riled up was my pre-Wrath wish list. Specifically, many people objected to my idea that officers should be able to see which characters in the guild were tied to a single person's account, a feature I called "Alt ID."
In the reader comments, Barnister wrote the following:
Alt ID? A big NO-NO!
Whether it's should be viewable only in guild or not, it's a big NO-NO!
Lots of people have alts to flee the drama, the stress and whatnot coupled with their mains.
So NO! I for one want to be able to log on my alt and be left alone by my friends and guildmembers when I choose to.
I may not have been entirely clear in my post, but I certainly meant that only your alts in the guild should be known. Everyone is entitled to their unknown alts so they can still log in and enjoy the game without always having to deal with whatever is going on in their guild.
However, I completely disagree that you are entitled to private alts within your guild. Once you ask for that invite, the officers have a right to know who your main is. In reality it goes beyond having a right -- it's an absolute imperative. If you haul off and ninja a legendary drop, we need to know who all your toons are so we can gkick and blacklist every single one of them.
If you've got our guild tag under your name, everything you do affects the reputation of that guild. If someone outside the guild comes to me about how your harassed them on your level 12 rogue, if that alt is in my guild I need to know who it belongs to so I can settle the matter.
In short, if you want to be "left alone," don't ask me to invite every single toon you have. As long as you're not advertising that your main is in my guild, I don't care what you do on your unguilded alts.
Finally, two weeks ago I wrote a column about how to address your online leadership skills on your resume.
Fugmug had this to say in a reader comment:
Dangerous post. Putting stupid ideas in people's heads when it concerns their financial future is nefariously mean, Scott. And yes, I know mean.
In case any of you huntards who need roll on cloth are confused, remember only one thing:
During any interview at a firm that is not a graphics/gaming company, you have a better shot at getting hired if you stand up and slap the interviewer than if you mention *ANY* kind of video gaming.
NEVER NEVER NEVER mention any kind of qualities that you think are positive that you learned from a video game environment in an interview, unless you suddenly decide you don't want the job and want the interviewer to wrap it up quickly.
Even as a gamer myself, if someone were to present that to me during an interview, it would *NOT* be viewed favorably.
I've been called a lot of things in my time as a guild leader and blogger, but never "nefarious." That's a new one. But it's also a pretty cool word all around so I'll give you credit for that!
Plenty of readers added their own rebuttals to this comment, so I won't go into a long, detailed response here. But I will clarify the purpose of my original post for those who may have misunderstood it.
I am not, under any circumstances, advocating that you sit down for an interview and immediately launch into a prepared speech about how your hours and hours of Warcraft play have made you the ideal candidate for a job (unless that job is at Blizzard, perhaps -- but even then, maybe not).
The person who asked the question wasn't asking whether or not you should list your officer experience on your resume, but how to do so, and that is what I wrote. I did spend a paragraph or two examining the relevance as a bit of an introduction. Obviously, however, you need to evaluate for yourself whether or not it's a good idea to mention this on your resume.
If you feel you've learned about leadership and acquired valuable skills during your time as an officer, it could be beneficial when appropriate to mention that experience in one of the more innocuous categories of your resume. If your interviewer wants to delve into it, then make sure you have some solid examples to back up your claims. Otherwise, it's not a topic you want to bring up out of the blue.
Like it or not, online interaction is real human interaction and online leadership is real leadership. The stakes may be quite low compared to a corporate environment, but the lessons we all learn are no less meaningful.