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The Guild Counsel: Lessons in guild leadership from a pop star

Karen Bryan

Apologies to the Beliebers, but good old Justin hasn't exactly had a banner year. He's been in the news a lot lately, just not for his dulcet tones or his fancy dance moves. But his behavior can actually remind guild leaders of a few important things not to do.

Can a brash pop star really provide tips on guild leadership? Let's take a lighthearted look in this week's Guild Counsel.

Cult of personality

Running a guild can sometimes go to one's head. You might have come across those guild leaders who log in and expect everyone to greet them with a flurry of hellos and hugs. The leader tag leads some to go on a bit of a power trip, and it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the guild is playing for you rather than for the game itself. Like Bieber descending onto the stage with giant angel wings, some guild leaders get a little too wrapped up in the role of leader.

Guild leaders need confidence, and they need to be comfortable being in the spotlight, even when things aren't going well. But there's a difference between earning the respect of the guild for your leadership and taking on an air of superiority to the point of being a Messiah. When it gets to that point, it can lead to all sorts of trouble. Leaders often get defensive any time a member questions a decision, and they're also less likely to take member input into consideration. We've looked at the issue of ranks and power trips before, and it's important for leaders to remember that running a guild really needs to be a team effort -- egos should be checked at the door.

Follow through

Among the many strange stories about Bieber, one involved a pet monkey that Bieber had apparently adopted and then left behind in Germany when he failed to produce the proper paperwork. Instead of following up and getting the paperwork in order, he ditched the pet and left Germany to care for it and find it a new home.

The Guild Counsel  Lessons in Guild Leadership from a pop star
Running a guild is a commitment, and there are far too many guild leaders who walk into the role without really understanding what needs to be done. If I had a nickel for every guild leader I met who did it because he wanted a particular piece of loot and needed a raid force to do it, I'd be able to buy my own moon. Creating a guild is very hard, and new guild leaders tend to hit more roadbumps than their seasoned peers. It can often feel like an impossible task, and many guilds fail because the leader has had enough and decides to walk away. But doing so is unfair to the members who signed on and invested their time and effort into the guild, and in many cases, the guild is a lot closer than it seems to overcoming those problems. Whether it's a pet or a guild (and no, I'm really not comparing members to monkeys!), if you take on a big responsibility, you should be ready for the challenges that go with it and follow through.

Own up

Bieber has apparently been a bit reckless on the road, and a few days ago, NFL star Keyshawn Johnson was so incensed at seeing Bieber's car speed past him in a quiet neighborhood that he tracked him down to confront him and filed a criminal complaint after Bieber hid in his house and refused to come out to talk.

Being reckless on the road is dangerous, but in game, a reckless approach can be a successful and fun way to play the game and run the guild. There are some guilds that earn a reputation for chaos, edginess, and constantly pushing the envelope. Members log in and buckle up for a roller coaster ride every night and enjoy the method in the madness. While this isn't everyone's idea of a fun time, the great thing about MMOs is that it's a venue to do things in game that you can't do in real life. Some players like to roleplay and take on personae that are far different from their own. Some of the quietest people in real life become the most outgoing in game (and vice versa). And some of the most straight-laced people are the most reckless players you'd ever meet.

But if you're a guild with a reckless playstyle, own up to it. It's irritating to run into a guild that is confrontational and edgy, but it's even more maddening to have its members plead innocence or lie about what they're doing. I've had dealings with guilds in the past that aren't exactly willing to share and play nice, but because they were honest and upfront about their intentions, we and other guilds actually respected them. The community didn't exactly hold a parade in their honor, but we did appreciate the fact that the guild was honest about what it was.

It might seem strange to look at guild leadership through the behavior of a teen pop star, but there are actually some similarities between the two. Like Bieber, guild leaders are constantly in the spotlight, and that brings all sorts of challenges. Will a guild leader fall into a power trip trap, or can he ignore it and focus on the more mundane tasks involved with running a successful guild? Poor decision-making can lead to support instantly evaporating, and followers suddenly become doubters. Much of the newsworthy behavior of Bieber boils down to immaturity, and if you look at most examples of guild drama and how it was handled by leaders and members, you can see plenty of signs of adults taking the low road and acting like kids. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to put on my angel wings and ascend to my raid.

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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