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The Guild Counsel: What barbecue teaches us about raid leadership

Karen Bryan

The fourth of July is here, and along with the fireworks and fun in the sun comes my favorite meal of all: barbecue. There's nothing better than grilled-up meats rubbed in spice or slathered in sauce. Recently, as I was finishing off a perfectly smoked rack of ribs, I realized that there's an interesting parallel between barbecuers and raid leaders. You can see many similarities between the personality types. I put my theory to the test and consumed lots and lots of barbecue, all in the name of science, and I have concluded that you can indeed tell what type of raid leader you are by your barbecue style.

So grab burger and a nice cold drink and read on as we interpret the smoke signals and read the tea leaves of grilling!

The Zen barbecuer

To this griller, the key to a delicious meal is to leave well enough alone. He doesn't smush his burger flat with a spatula, and he sure doesn't move his steak every 10 seconds. He does his prep work beforehand, making sure everything's seasoned and the grill is hot enough, and then lets things play out on their own. This griller flips his food only once and watches in almost a trance for that perfect moment when it's time. It'll drive you crazy trying to figure out how he arrives at his decisions at the grill, especially when the result is always so good.

Likewise, there are Zen raid leaders out there who quietly just do. Raiders will suggest changes to strategies and player roles, and they'll constantly have the urge to second guess, but in the end, the Zen raid leader has some kind of weird, freaky-deaky sixth sense that enables him to find a way to win.

Meanwhile the Zen barbecuer's polar opposite is...

The fidgeter

The fidgeter can't leave well enough alone. He micromanages his barbecue, and if the burgers and ribs moved around any more on the grill, you'd think they'd get up and walk away. He's flipping, poking, prodding, and smushing everything, sending smoke clouds of distress from the grilled foods up into the stratosphere. He might end up with a tasty plate of food in the end, but you're left wondering whether all that fidgeting was necessary.

Similarly, the fidgeting raid leader is constantly adjusting groups, strats, and mob placement. A raid might wipe due to a simple mistake, and the fidgeter will spend 20 minutes reorganizing the raid and coming up with a completely new battle plan rather than just trying it one more time as-is. It might bring success, but it's not necessarily the most enjoyable trip to victory.

The Guild Counsel What Barbecue Teaches Us about Raid Leadership
The technician

The technician looks at barbecue as more of a science experiment than as cuisine. He's armed with carefully prepared spice rubs, liquid injectors, smoke pans, and barbecue equipment that resembles something you'd see at NASA. If you ask him a quick question about his sauce or his cooking times, be prepared for a PowerPoint lecture that requires careful note-taking so you can go back and review it later on. To the technician, barbecue is black and white and all about precision.

Likewise, the raid technician is all about the cut-and-dried. Listening to a pre-raid briefing from him is like listening to the raid leader at the beginning of the Leeroy Jenkins video. (The chance of success is 32.3333%, repeating). If you want a win, he'll get it, but it might feel a little starchy.

The hawg

This is the barbecuer who is bigger than life. He's got a big ol' mop that he uses to slap on the barbecue sauce, his rack of ribs looks a lot like it came from an episode of the Flintstones, his grill looks like a converted oil drum, and his overalls sport evidence of every barbecue he's made going back to 1990. It's messy, but it's an exciting kind of messy, and in the end, his barbecue tastes amazing.

The Guild Counsel What Barbecue Teaches Us about Raid Leadership
The Hawg raid leader is also a bit of a mess, but in a fun way. Raids might feel like controlled chaos, and there might even be some nights when you win with only one raider left standing, but a win's a win, and under the Hawg, it'll be one heck of a ride.

The social barbecuer

For this cook, it's more about the party and the moment than it is about the actual barbecue. He's in it for the social opportunity and for the way that really good barbecue brings people together. You can pick out the social barbecuer because he's got a crowd huddled around the grill all the time, and everyone's smiling and at ease.

The social raid leader is also in it for the crowd. He'll get the win, but mainly because winning keeps people coming back. For him, it's about the people more than about the loot.

The "in over his head" barbecuer

This is the type-A personality that knows barbecue better than you, so just step out of the way and watch and learn. The only problem is that he thinks grilling just involves throwing the meat on the grill and maybe flipping it a few times. How hard can it be, right? Before you know it, all you're left with is some shoe leather steaks and a cloud of dust.

You've probably come across the "in over his head" raid leader as well. He might have read a spoiler or two and thinks it's mainly about telling the tank to pull, telling the healers to heal, and telling the DPS to, well, stab. How hard can it be, right? And here comes the wipe...

The dude

This is the guy who doesn't want to deal with standing over a hot grill, consuming the carcinogenic cloud of charred meat and dealing with the pressure of making sure to flip at the right time. He's just happy and thankful to consume the product (and he'll contribute by bringing the beer). The grill guy might get all the kudos, but if it weren't for the dude, it wouldn't be a party.

There are plenty of dudes when it comes to raid leading. These are the ones who don't necessarily carry the title of raid leader but who are essential for success. They toss out valuable advice, supply helpful consumables, and improvise during the fight to help turn the tide. In fact, the more dudes a raid has, the more successful (and fun!) raiding can be.

In short, if you want to get in touch with your inner raid-leader personality, I think the best way is to break out the grill and sizzle up some barbecue. Through my careful analysis of the evidence, I think there are some important lessons to be learned. Or maybe I'm just hungry.

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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