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Officers' Quarters: Why we lead

Scott Andrews

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes
Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

If you've read my column or our Guildwatch features in the past, you've heard about all kinds of terrible situations involving guilds and their officers. Sometimes, serving as an officer is a stressful, thankless job and everything you try to accomplish is just setting yourself up for more abuse. Combined with real-life pressures, it can really wear you down after a while. I've had some dark moments as a guild leader when I've thought about stepping down and giving it all up. And sometimes I find myself wondering why I've stuck with it for so long.

We officers certainly don't get paid for our efforts. We rarely receive any kind of tangible benefit. So why do we do it?

To find the answer, it's helpful to look back and remember how we wound up where we are. For some of us, we had a vision of the guild we wanted to be a part of, and we knew we'd have to build it from the ground up. For others, our guild needed us, and we volunteered to help. For me, in the earliest days of Warcraft, I was the person among my group of friends (both online and from real life) who had been playing the longest, so it just defaulted to me to acquire the charter. Obviously I had no idea what I was signing up for. We had no plans to grow into one of the largest guilds on the server. We just wanted to have a common channel to chat and a way to see who was online. Back then, being the guild leader was a piece of cake. It was largely a ceremonial position.

Fast forward to a year later, when I was giving my first annual "State of the Guild" address on our anniversary. We had grown over the past 12 months from a dozen people to about three times that number. There had been some unhappiness, a touch of drama here and there, but nothing like what I would face later. Back then, I thought I had all the answers. In my address, I laid out some goals for the guild that members had been clamoring for: more aggressive recruiting, more and better raiding, things like that. By the time the second anniversary came around, I realized I had accomplished nearly everything I had set out to do. We had about 200 accounts in the guild and were raiding everything we had the gear for.

I also realized the past year had taken its toll. I had been putting too much time into the guild, prioritizing it over other important things in real life. There had been and still was a lot of friction between the veterans and the recruits. I had been doing my best to keep guild chat peaceable, having private conversations with all parties involved, mitigating personal disputes, and all the rest. This was on top of a rather aggressive raiding schedule, raids that often became the fuel for the arguments. I was quickly getting burnt out.

I did some soul-searching then about what I really wanted out of the game and what the guild meant to me. The game had become more than just a hobby; the guild, much more than just a common channel to chat and a way to see who was online. It was now a family, and it was in danger of collapsing under its own weight. It was too important to me to stand idle and watch it die. So I re-energized myself and swore that if the guild went down, I'd go down too, fighting it every step of the way. As you can see, it all worked out eventually, even though a number of our more drama-prone members decided to part ways. We've had some issues since then, but it's been relatively harmonious ever since.

And that is why I lead: The friends I've made in Warcraft over the past three years are too important to me to let our family break apart or wither away. It's a selfish reason, and yet what I have to do often means making sacrifices. I know now what it means to pay the price of leadership, and I'll do it gladly. Most of you who have been leading guilds for a long time probably feel the same way. Does that mean we lead because we're afraid of what might happen if we don't? Are we afraid that the person who takes our place won't be able to make those sacrifices? Are we just too self-important to risk letting someone else take the reins?

I guess it doesn't really matter, as long as we continue to have the best interests of the guild at heart. If a guild is important to us, then those interests are our interests. And our reward is the survival of what gives us joy -- even if it sometimes gives us an ulcer, too . . .

Why do you lead? Tell us about it below!


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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