As I mentioned two weeks ago, we are really hitting the lull between expansions at this point. Many officers and guild leaders will be tempted to take a break from the game between now and Cataclysm. For a guild leader, it's a particularly tough decision. There's quite a bit of uncertainty about what will happen to a guild in its leader's absence. What many guild leaders don't think about, however, is the uncertainty that can occur once they return to the game. This week, one guild leader is returning from an extended break to find that the guild is still going strong, but that many things have changed in his absence, not the least of which is his own role.
I have a different situation than I have seen you discuss before. I am the guild creator and original GM of a raiding guild. I set up all the rules for the guild, with advice from my officers, set raiding rules, assigned ranks, and generally ran the guild how I wanted. It turned out to be quite a wonderful guild and I am happy that I was able to create a guild that functioned so well. Well, after leading the guild for more than a year, we started to grow rather large. We had 3-4 10-man groups going each week, 2 25-man groups, and other various activities. Even though I had asked some officers to step up and lead events, they didn't really pull through so I ended up leading a lot. At one point, I was leading 5 raids a week. With everything else going on in my life, I realized I couldn't maintain that sort of schedule for long.
I decided to take a break. I promoted a trusted officer to GM and I logged off for 3 months so I could better deal with some real-life obligations. During those 3 months I kept in contact with the new GM to see how things were going. For the first couple of weeks that I was gone, the guild was pretty helpless. They weren't raiding and everyone was hoping I would come back and do everything again. When they realized I wasn't coming back, they decided to make things happen on their own. Some officers stepped up to help out more and even some non-officers took up leadership of a raid. It ended up turning out for the best because now they do even more raiding than when I was in charge and they have multiple people leading.
I recently had the desire to come back and play again and here is where the question comes in to play. This guild was "my baby" and I set up the guild how I thought was best. While I was away, some of my rules were removed or changed and other rules were added. I don't agree with all the changes but some of them are better. I have been back playing for about 5 days now and I am finding it difficult to find my place in the guild right now. Many of the members still respect me like their GM, some of the members don't even know me, at least one of the officers resents me for leaving. Right now, I help fill in raids whenever they need another member but I haven't taken up leading any raids yet. The current GM promoted me to the officer rank when I came back so I can be in on officer discussions.
What is the best way for me to reintegrate to the guild? I think the GM would make me the new GM if I asked but should I ask? Do I just have to keep my mouth shut and let the officers run the guild how they have been or can I try and change some of the rules I don't agree with? I am very happy that my guild is still prospering and that the officers have taken up leadership without me but I am saddened that "my guild" that I created and that I had special plans for is no longer mine. What is my place in this guild?
I would recommend treading carefully here. It's not unusual for some of your officers and other members to feel resentful when a guild leader decides to stop playing entirely for a while. You were certainly entitled to do so, but people sometimes feel betrayed or abandoned as a result.
Fortunately, it seems that your guild has actually improved since you left, with more people willing to take on responsibility. That will decrease the workload on individual players and reduce the chances that someone will be overwhelmed by leadership duties, much like you were. Considering the sheer size of the guild, I doubt any single person could handle managing everything for very long. Thus, your decision has had a tangible benefit for the community. Hopefully that benefit will lessen any hard feelings other members may be harboring.
Even so, you did leave, and you can't expect to come back whenever you feel up to it and pick up exactly where you left off. Part of taking a long break from a leadership position is accepting the fact that your replacement may not decide to run things exactly the way you would have. If you return to the guild and start clamoring to put everything back the way it was, you're only going to stir up more resentment.
Don't be a Jay Leno. Your guild and your place in it has changed, and you need to accept that for now. You created the guild and you were the biggest contributor to its initial success, but others have taken up the torch. You need to respect the effort that they put in to keep the community moving forward in your absence. If not for them, you'd be starting from scratch instead of returning to the guild you founded -- in any capacity.
You can't think of the guild as "your baby" anymore. Moreover, I actually think that this attitude is counterproductive for a guild leader. A guild leader may often call the shots, but a guild belongs to all its members. You lead only with their consent to be led by you.
Having said that, you could offer to resume your old position as guild leader. If you want to avoid drama, you should not request it. It's a fine line I'm drawing here, but it's an important distinction. By offering, you're sending the message that you are willing to take up the mantle again if the guild leader you appointed would rather step down -- but you are not expecting him or her to do so. Not many players want the ultimate responsibility of guild leadership, so you might be surprised at how quickly he or she hands over the reins. Just try not to let your disappointment show if he or she declines your offer.
If you request the position, on the other hand, you're sending a different message entirely. You're saying that you want the position back regardless of other considerations, and you're going to be dissatisfied by remaining just an officer. If the current guild leader wants to keep the position, he or she is going to feel threatened by your request. This situation can lead to political maneuvering and a possible power struggle that could tear the guild apart. You don't want that.
As far as the policy and rules changes go, what's done is done. The officers who were in charge felt that the changes were necessary or desirable and the guild seems to be doing fairly well as a result. Now is not the time to question these decisions. If a situation comes up where you feel that the new rules are causing a problem, then you should point out the issue privately with the other officers so you can all discuss it. That would be the appropriate time to request a change. Otherwise, don't rock the boat when the sailing is smooth.
You say you had "special plans" for this guild. There's no reason you can't still achieve those goals while serving as an officer. Yes, you'll have to defer to the other officers more than you otherwise might. However, as long as you're all on a similar page, I'm sure they'll be happy that another person is working hard to improve the guild.