Define your style
Players often think of guild leaders as bold, brash, and loud, but that's not a requirement of success. You have to figure out your personality and leadership style and then build on that. Everything from organization to guild atmosphere tends to reflect the personality of the guild leader, and that's something you can't fake.
Everyone who leads does it for a reason, although there are as many reasons for leading as there are grains of sand on a beach. But your reasons for leading are the foundation for your guild's vision, and that vision plays into pretty much every facet of your guild. Are you hardcore or casual? Are you focused on progression or more of a social guild? Is chat family-friendly or adult-themed? Do you allow for roleplaying or not? Do you use some type of voice chat program? How many members are on your roster? All of these questions need to be answered, and they're all affected by your vision for your guild.
Your guild needs some structure, but don't over legislate. The more rules you have, and the more specific they are, the greater the chance of painting yourself into a corner and having to face drama. Sometimes the best rule is to have a clean but lean set of rules when it comes to guild policies. You can't account for every situation and potential dilemma, but you can set up a framework that helps people understand expectations and get a feel for what's acceptable and what's not. In fact, by answering many of the questions above (and outlining your guild vision), you've already laid out a solid set of rules for your guild.
Distribution of wealth
There's a lot of "stuff" that has to be distributed to the guild on a regular basis, and it's up to you to determine how you want to do that. The biggest source is of stuff is guild events like raiding, so the first area to tackle is a loot policy. You could choose from the more commonly used systems, like DKP, loot councils, and randoming, but also consider unusual ones, like bidding for items with gold and then dividing up the pot at the end of the raid. Each one can work well; there is no perfect system. The best approach is to find one that fits your guild's playstyle (which is yet another reason it's important to determine your leadership style and vision!).
You also need to consider a way to distribute guild resources, like crafting components, donated gear, and even coin. Some games with guild banks have ways to set up permissions based on rank, but in other games, it's up to the leader to determine whether to implement a specific policy on access to guild resources or operate on the honor system.
Whatever loot rules you choose, make sure that you clearly explain them in advance to the guild and any guests who attend events. And repeat it as often as possible because there are always one or two people AFK who didn't hear you the first five times you explained it.
Tone and guild culture
Your guild eventually projects an image, and it's visible both to the members in guild and to those around you on the server. As with all of these other essentials, that image often starts with your personality, but it also comes from the guild culture overall. Is your guild edgy and confrontational? Do you encourage the high road approach when it comes to conflict? What's considered acceptable when members speak to each other? Whatever your guild's personality, your members need to all be on board with it, and that includes new members who join later on. Once you've established a guild culture that works for you and your members, you'll have an easier time bringing new members on board, and you'll be able to avoid potential drama as a result.
Two things you can't escape are death, taxes, and the constant need for new members. OK, that's three, but the point is that you will always need to stay active and recruit because even the most successful guilds have periods of attrition. It's more difficult to carry out a recruiting drive when you're first starting out because there's a temptation to invite anyone you can, but patience and a good screening process are key to building a quality roster. Carefully consider what type of player you're seeking out; look beyond level, class, and maturity. What are your busiest playtimes? Do you require voice chat? Do you allow for roleplaying? What's guild chat like? The clearer you are, the better the fit and the less potential for drama in the end.
The five areas of guild management listed above are some of the most important things for every guild leader to tackle, but there are plenty of other must-dos. What are some of the issues you feel are crucial to setting up and managing a successful guild? Share your thoughts below!
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.