Who knows what's best for a guild, its leader or its members? It's an interesting question. The guild leader certainly has the best perspective on all guild issues (or she should, anyway). But it is her job to keep the members happy. So if the members are against something, should you allow them to overrule you? What if you as an officer think the members are wrong? This week's e-mail comes from a reader who did what his members wanted him to do, but thinks he might have made a mistake.
I'm the GM of a reasonably successful guild who have gotten to Sarth 2d and working on 3d in 25 man raids, so there's not a lot left to do.
Back in mid January we were successfully [running three Heroic raids] a week. However some classes were very tight and for the 25 man we had maybe 27 signups and not all of the 'right' class balance, but 'good enough' for Naxx etc. We had the opportunity to take in approximately 10 good raiders [. . .] with whom some of us (including myself) had played in the past and [whose] attitude matched very closely to our own. With those 10 raiders there were approximately 10 other people who did not want to raid with RL commitments but still enjoyed playing WoW etc. The Officers were largely in favor of taking them on, our class leaders had some concerns, but generally thought it was a good idea. So we took the idea to the guild as a whole who were largely against the merger.
At the time we decided that it would be unwise to go against the attitude of our members. Taking on 20 people when the guild did not like the idea we felt would not make the guild a pleasant place for anyone to be . . .
Now most of our members have gotten their loot and are not signing up for our runs (including Sarth 3D) and when they do sign up, attention has gone down and we're wiping because people are just goofing off because it's 'easy mode'.
I keep coming back to my decision back in January to follow the guild's wishes. If I had gone with my judgement the additional members would have increased the competition for raid spots and give us a larger pool of good raiders to pick from during these quieter times. Was this the right call? What would you and your readers have done?
There's a lesson here for all guild leaders faced with a difficult decision. Anon, you certainly did the right thing by asking your members what they would prefer. That's an important step in the process of making the decision. However, it's just one step. There are a few more you could have taken. The next step would be to find out exactly why people were against the merger.
Guild leaders have to consider the long-term growth and success of their guild. Guild members aren't largely concerned with that issue in the day-to-day. Members are more about the here and now. They don't want the boat rocked. If they are able to do the things they want to do without much drama, then most of them will be happy.
At the time you proposed this merger, you were able to raid and just about everyone who wanted to attend a raid was able to do so. So your members were happy with the situation and they saw no need to add 20 new players.
But the fact was, you were walking a razor's edge with 27 players for 25 slots. Your officers saw the future need. Your members saw the risk to their current happiness. Would they lose their raid slot if someone better joined the guild? Would they get along with all these new people? Given these easily imagined concerns, it doesn't surprise me that your members voted down the idea.
If these were in fact their concerns, but you still felt that inviting those 20 players was the right call, you could have taken the next step: Use this information to address your members' uncertainty head-on. Before inviting these new players, you could have put together a joint run to see how it went. If everyone got along well, your members might have had less doubt about drama. In addition, if the raid had gone smoother due to a better balance of classes, they might have seen the advantage of that aspect as well.
If the run did not go very well, then you may have had to admit that you were wrong about bringing them on board. Either way, at least at this point you'd know more about what could have been.
If your members had other concerns, I'm sure you could have done something to address them going forward. Members always have concerns. Sometimes it is the guild leader's job to tackle those concerns and keep everyone happy. But sometimes it's our job to help members see the long-term benefits that can outweigh a short-term risk.
I think the members in your guild who still want to raid right now are seeing what those benefits could have been. Given the chance to voice their opinion again, some might make a different decision.
From a certain point of view, by giving your members what they wanted, you let them down. It's a dilemma every leader must face. And it's why sometimes the best leaders aren't always the most popular.