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Officers' Quarters: No leader = no raid?

Scott Andrews
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

When your raid leader is absent, does your guild cancel the entire raid? This week, an officer is in a guild that does just that.

Hi Scott,

I've read a lot of your columns and I'm curious if you could offer some advise on how to suggest changes to a GM.

Ok, I'm an officer in a guild that is focused on "casual progression" (if such a thing exists). We have regular raid times and dates that the whole guild is aware of, and use the calendar to build our raid groups. For some background, our GM is also our primary raid leader. When he is unavailable to raid, due to work or life, we typically don't raid. We have two tiers of guild officers, one to focus on class knowledge and guild activities, and the other who are raid leaders. The raid leader tier is short in number because some guild members don't want to lead raids and others because our GM doesn't feel they would be a good raid leader.

The first tier (focused on class and guild activities) is typically frowned upon for leading because they should have requested to become raid leaders. I am a part of the first tier; and my question is this, how can I approach the GM to let one of us lead when he isn't available (or another 2nd tier officer) and how do I get the guild together when they assume that the GM isn't here so there is no raid tonight?

I have applied to become a raid leader but was shaky in my execution (first time raid leading) on a fight I should have known better before leading, and was turned down. I'm alright with not being selected but I hate to see our regular raid nights go wasted farming Timeless Isle or leveling alts.

First off, let's be clear: this is not a problem you can solve alone. This is a systemic failure in your guild, and one that should be corrected.

A raid team -- especially a team that is focused on progression, no matter how "casual" you guys may consider yourselves -- needs a good leader. Somebody has to keep people motivated when a boss won't die, give people a hard time when they're late, and coordinate who's going to run to which prison on fights like Sha of Pride. A solid raid leader is a critical component.

That said, when a raid leader is absent, that should never mean the raid is canceled. Quality raid leadership will pay off over the long term, but in a pinch any schmo with a mic can do the job for one night.

I'm not sure why that hasn't been the case for your guild. Maybe the raid team lacks confidence. Maybe the guild leader doesn't think that anyone is worthy of filling in for him. Maybe players in your guild just don't like raiding that much, and they'd rather farm the TI if the ideal circumstances can't be met.

Whatever the reason, I agree with you that something should be done. I'm sure some of the other raiders are unhappy about this situation, and you'll risk losing them to other guilds if it continues.

Changing the culture

The conversation should begin with the "first tier" members who raid, as you have it set up. Ask them how they feel about the current situation. You'll need their support if you're going to move forward.

It doesn't have to be you, but someone needs to be the substitute raid leader. The major qualifications for this role should be (a) they want to do it and (b) they are better than literally no one. It shouldn't be hard to identify someone who meets the minimums -- I bet you would do just fine given a second chance.

Regardless, you and the other first tiers need to change the opinion in your guild that an absent guild leader means a canceled raid. You have to show the guild that it doesn't need to go down that way. The next time a raid would be canceled, you have to uncancel it.

To do that, you'll need your guild leader's blessing. The best approach is to have the support of other officers in the guild before you ask. He is more likely to listen to a group of officers than a lone voice.

Your guild leader may have his doubts, but ultimately he has to let you guys try without him. Otherwise, he's just holding the entire raid team hostage to his own schedule, and that's not fair to the other members.

Once your raid team has more confidence in other leaders, they will be more willing to try without the raid leader.

Raid leading 101

One way to build confidence toward other leaders within the guild, and to gain confidence for yourself, would be to lead an alt run on an off night. You could start off on flex raid difficulty.

Again, you should approach your guild leader and receive his blessing for this type of endeavor. Doing so may convince him that you are committed to leading raids even if you had a shaky start on your first try. I'm not sure why he's holding this against you. Who hasn't had a shaky start their first time out, leading anything?

This time, make sure you know the encounters inside and out. Study relevant class abilities. Come prepared with ideas for alternative strategies if the "accepted" way to beat the boss doesn't work for your particular group. Not every guild follows the Icy Veins strategies to the letter. Most teams have to tweak the way they face a boss based on their composition or their unique strengths and weaknesses.

Veteran raid leaders know when to stick with a strategy and when to make adjustments. You'll learn this in time. A pretty good indication is when your team is wiping at the same point of a boss fight every time, without improvement.

Also, don't be afraid to ask your fellow raiders for suggestions. The best leaders know that they can't possibly know everything and are willing to use their teammates' knowledge as a resource.

Good raid leaders are scarce, mostly because so few people want to take up the mantle. You want to, and that's great. If your guild leader is smart, he will encourage you to learn how.

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

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