Admittedly this analogy is a bit ridiculous, but it's an important point to consider. A guild can only sustain so many officers, just like a business can only sustain so many managers. Each one must play a vital role.
If you are promoted, it's not just a recognition of your achievements. It's not just a coronation, like Napoleon's in the painting. It's a contract. You will receive the recognition, and in return you will be an active leader. You will do what needs to be done so that the guild can thrive.
It goes beyond simply setting a good example and into the nuts and bolts of operating a community. There are jobs that every guild needs accomplished: recruiting, managing the bank, organizing raids/PvP/role-play, resolving disputes, running the website, and so on. The more officers there are who don't help with these tasks, the more those tasks fall to the few who are willing.
Don't be Napoleon
I'm not writing this to guilt trip anyone. It's difficult to find time to be a committed, active officer within a guild, which is why such a small minority of players want to do it. If you've been that kind of officer, then I salute you, and the WoW community should be grateful for your service. I hope it's been fun for you along the way -- and not just a job.
However, I would urge you to evaluate your commitment level going into this expansion. Are you ready to do it all over again? Are you excited about September 25, or are you dreading it?
Do you want to be an active officer, or are you just addicted, like Napoleon, to the power of command?
When I see guilds struggling, and I see guild leaders and other officers getting burned out, I often see a guild where real leadership is lacking. Too many officers are such in name only, enjoying the prestige of their position while contributing very little, whether due to their own burnout, their lack of time, or just a lack of motivation. Yet, they have no desire to step down.
Giving it up
If you find yourself in this situation -- if you know you can't play a meaningful role in the leadership and duties of the guild -- the right thing to do is to resign. Make room for another officer, a new and enthusiastic officer, to take over.
It's not easy to let go, to "obey," to step outside of the inner circle and be a regular member once more. It doesn't have to mean going into exile. You can ask for continued access to the officer-only forums and other such communication channels. As a former officer, your input can still be valuable.
Overall, you will be happier without the stress and the guilt of not living up to the guild's expectations. Your guild will be healthier without legacy officers who serve no tangible role. Most importantly, the existing officers can take steps to ensure that all of the necessary tasks are managed, whether by promoting new officers or dividing up the jobs that you're no longer able to do.
Let's be honest: When an officer says they are going to do a job and then they fail to do it, those jobs usually fall to that one officer in every guild who will take on any number of duties without complaint. It's not a fair situation, and it's an inevitable recipe for burnout for your guild's most motivated leader. That is bad for everybody.
If you fail to live up to your duties in Mists, you will put a lot more stress on the guild and its other officers. Be realistic with yourself and your capacity in this expansion. Don't hang on to the rank out of pride. Part of being a good leader is knowing when you can't be one anymore.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.