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The Guild Counsel: Are you ready to lead a guild?

Karen Bryan

The Guild Counsel has explored lots of tips and advice that make running a guild more enjoyable and (hopefully!) more successful. But I'm constantly amazed at the number of players I meet in MMOs who would probably make great leaders and would probably enjoy it but don't give it a try. Making the leap from player to guild leader can be both tempting and daunting, and unfortunately, there's no easy way to tell who will make a good leader and who won't. Plenty of us have come across people who really should not have taken on the guild leader role, but for every bad guild leader, there are probably dozens of good people who could become great leaders if they chose to make the leap.

Granted, there are many who are firmly set on staying away from the role, and that's understandable, but this week's column is devoted to those who are considering stepping forward to lead but aren't sure if they have what it takes. Are you ready to run a guild? Let's find out!

Are you a people person?

Let's face it: A big part of running a guild is interacting with the players, so if your favorite thing to do in game is log in your army of bots and go off soloing, you probably shouldn't run a guild. Initially, you'll need to be a visible figure in your guild, to let players get to know you and grow to trust you. That does not mean you have to be on 24/7, and it also doesn't mean you can't have some "me time" here and there, but you do have to be prepared to take on the role of manager from time to time.

Are you in it to make friends?

There's no doubt that strong friendships can form out of guild ties, but that can't be the primary reason for leading a guild. In fact, one trap that guild leaders fall into is trying to be everyone's friend. New guildleaders quickly find out that being the buddy makes it nearly impossible to gain the respect of the guild when the difficult decisions come.

Are you patient?

MMO vets always complain about the rise of "instant gratification" in their games, and within a guild, that's actually a potential landmine. As a guild leader, you'll often feel pressure to make decisions quickly, and good guild leaders are able to step back and look at issues with patience and careful reasoning. In particular, patience is key when dealing with complaints, and guild leaders who can stay calm are usually able to defuse an explosive situation.

Are you willing to lay down the law?

Being patient doesn't mean being a pushover, and if you're going to make the jump to guild leading, you'll need to be ready to draw a line and hold to it. In a previous column, we looked at ways to craft rules that establish order and give enough leeway to make fair decisions on the outlier issues. But when a rule is broken, or someone is detracting from others' enjoyment of the game, you have to be ready to step in and meet it head on. It's not fun, and it's not easy, but it is an important part of running a guild.

Dynasty Warriors Online
Do you practice what you preach?

We've talked in the past about how much of the guild's atmosphere revolves around the personality of a guild leader. It's like the joke about dogs resembling their owners. If you're considering becoming a guild leader, it's important to think through what type of guild you want, and also what type of leader you are. I've seen quiet, laid-back people try to run break-neck, hardcore raiding guilds, and it just doesn't work. Likewise, I've seen intense gamers try to establish casual guilds, and it ends up resulting in frustration. You can't create a family guild and then swear like a sailor because whatever you do sets the tone for the rest of the guild, and it sets the example for what's allowed and what's not.

Do you know the ins and outs of the game?

Guess what -- you don't have to! I think this is actually one of the biggest reasons good people avoid guild leading -- they feel they need to know more than anyone else in the guild. Granted, you should have enough knowledge of the game to hold your own, but it's OK if you don't know every class spec, raid boss mechanic, or gear stat. Game knowledge should be a collective effort, not a measure of power. You're not a weak leader if you don't know that a defensive-specced tank procs 27.4 percent more damage, and if there's someone in your guild who thinks that you are, he probably isn't worth keeping around in the guild.

Are you willing to walk away?

This may sound odd, but having that attitude can make your role stress-free. Too many guild leaders end up appeasing and coddling problem players because they're afraid of doing something that could cause the destruction of the guild. What ends up happening is that the more you bend over backwards to please people, the more demands they make. Once you've overcome the fear of losing the guild, it's much easier to make the key decisions without hand-holding or micro-managing.

Do you like seeing the pieces fit together?

Guild leading can be a very satisfying endeavor because you have the opportunity to gather people from around the world and do some really cool stuff together. There are guild leaders out there who enjoy it for the loot or for the chest-thumping, but I think the best part is the jigsaw aspect to it. There are so many variables to running a successful guild, like player personalities, in-game obstacles, ever-changing schedules, and the teamwork required to execute guild goals. It often rests on you to make the pieces fit, and it can be formidable at times. But when everything suddenly clicks, and the puzzle gets completed, it's a very rewarding feeling. It may not be for everyone, but I believe there are plenty of players out there who would make terrific guild leaders and are ready to make the transition. If you do, good luck (and let me know how it goes)!

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.

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