The Guild Counsel: What do you need to be a guild leader?

The other day, I came across one of those inspirational posters that takes a word and then uses each letter to spell out a quality that makes up the word. And it got me thinking about what words best describe the essence of a good guild leader. There are as many different types of guild leaders as there are grains of sand on a beach, and many of them are successful. But if you took all of the longtime guild leaders and deconstructed them, what qualities would they all share?

Let's look at the most essential qualities of a guild leader in this week's Guild Counsel.


I can't stress enough how important it is for a guild leader to have an overall vision of his style of guild, and a map of how he plans to get there. This doesn't just apply to endgame-oriented guilds, either. If you're a guild that's focused on crafting and designing, what do you need to accomplish that, and how can you organize your members to work toward it? If you're a roleplaying guild, what can you do to help facilitate RP and bring those character stories together, rather than have 30 roleplayers doing 30 different things?


Too many leaders think that their job ends when they get players to click yes to the guild invite. Actually, that's where the real fun begins. Everyone has ideas and goals, but the motivator is the one who gets people to sound them out and figure out how to plan them all out so that everyone's collective efforts get the most out of the time invested. In other words, you're the springboard that encourages people to volunteer their wildest hopes and dreams.


Guild leaders don't have to be micromanagers, but they're the ones who get the ball rolling. You would think that five or six people would be able to take their common goals and team up together to knock them out, but night after night, that simply does not happen without that one person who steps up and grabs all the members by the arm to tug them in the right direction. Guild leaders do that every day, whether it's helping members put together good adventure groups, harvesting groups, PvP teams, or raid forces. It's not really that difficult to get players to assemble and go forward with various objectives, but without a good coordinator, players are often shy to make that first move.


There are bound to be conflicts within a guild because there are many personalities and playstyles that get lumped together in the team. While some guilds choose to settle disputes with an organized group of members, that can lead to slow decisions and prolonged drama. Usually, the guild leader is the judge, jury, and executioner. Good guild leaders can read their members well and know when to step in and break things up, boxing-style, and when to let things play out and resolve themselves on their own. Sometimes, the guild leader needs to take the difficult step of punitive action, and while it's not easy, good guild leaders know that it's necessary for the good of the guild.

Good listener

But along with being the arbitrator, it's also important that a guild leader be a good listener. That doesn't mean you have to entertain every single comment from every single guild member. Any time someone solicits "any question or comments," the door is opened to even the most germaine suggestions. But a good guild leader will know when to take suggestions and complaints seriously and not merely fend them off as an affront to his position. No guild leader has all the right answers, and the best ones know how to sort through the sea of ideas to hear out the best input from members.

As fair as possible (and able to justify decisions that don't seem fair)

People often use the word "fair" when describing a guild leader, but remember Murphy's Law: There are times when circumstances cause a guild leader to have to make a tough call that doesn't seem fair to everyone. There are many grey areas when it comes to decision making, whether it's screening out potential members, choosing what content is best suited for the guild's abilities, awarding loot, or making a promotion. Not everyone will be happy with a decision, but good guild leaders are able to explain the reasoning behind their decisions to hopefully convince the dissenters that it's done with the best of intentions.

Comfortable making mistakes

If you choose to be a guild leader and think you know everything that there is to know about running a successful guild, just turn right around and find something else to do. All guild leaders make mistakes, and in most cases, they'll make spectacularly bad ones at some point. Today's guild leaders have the benefit of learning from the mistakes of past leaders, but even then, there are many situations that come up that either demand an instant response or don't have any past precedent to help guide a decision. In those cases, a leader has to rely on instinct and reflex, and those aren't always perfect. The best guild leaders are able to make mistakes a rare occurrence and are OK with admitting when they messed up. They're quick to rectify errors, and for that, members are willing to cut some slack.

One thing that isn't set in stone is tone. You can be a quiet, focused leader or a loud-mouthed, in-your-face leader, but without the qualities above, you're most likely going into your leadership at a disadvantage. These are some of the key qualities of a successful guild leader, but what would you include on your list? Next week, we'll look at a few commonly held beliefs about guild leadership qualities that should not make the list!

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.