Saturday, June 12, 2010

What's in a Guild?

The time has come. I have been meaning to put some guild ideas down on computer...and I have not been able to decide where to start. I've opted to begin with my philosophy of what I think a guild should be. Let me start from the beginning.

The Beginning
When I first became guild leader I was overwhelmed and I must admit a bit panic-stricken with the idea of being in control of this thing that was made of so many other people and personalities. I was voted in, and accepted the nomination thinking I probably wouldn't be able to cope with it for very long. I have a strong dislike of conflict and am really quite afraid of confronting people. Even though I seem to put my opinions out there freely and I will admit, I have a big mouth and sometimes a big attitude to go with it, I will shy away from confrontation.

My initial ideas were based on what the guild had been when I joined. A collection of people that wanted to have fun and play together. I must say, that core idea is what keeps me on the straight and narrow today as far as guild leadership. At first I read a lot. I went to the forums and perused the guild management threads for ideas on how and where I should lead this group of individuals. I read up on types of guilds and guild leadership and all that. I prepared speeches I gave to my officers on what we should be striving for. Looking back, all this was in an effort to find myself and my style, and the style of the guild.
The next months were rough as we found a new footing. It was toward the end of BC I think and guilds, like now at the end of Wrath, were having to redefine themselves to hold on to members or to pass the boredom of the pre-expansion blues. People came and went and the guild turnover was high. I took it very personally at first. It took a long time for me to realize that these people are here because they want to be. If I tried to make sacrifices to keep people that didn't belong or didn't want to stay I would only hurt everyone in the end. I have learned to develop a bit of a tougher skin when it comes to people coming and going. After all, just because they leave doesn't mean they won't be back or they won't continue to be friends. Change is good, right?

After a fashion I began to take ownership of the guild. I was determined to move forward on my terms and see what happened. I read other guild charters and re-wrote ours several times. It's a bit overdone now, but it helped me formulate what I wanted KG to be and how I wanted it to get there. I wanted to define what it meant to be in the guild, and I wanted every member to know that. Yes, hindsight, I was probably a little overzealous and maybe it was all a bit over the top, but I don't think it was for nothing.

In the end, the core values we agreed on in our charter are what shapes my decisions and leadership today.
Respect. Respect for guild mates and respect for others in the game. In guild channels and in public channels. Reading over all our core ideas it is all based on respect and treatment of others around you. Don't do to someone what you would not want done to you. Next to that is responsibility. Be responsible for your actions in game. Don't be a jackass. But, the biggest thing we all believe in is It's just a game! Yes we are serious about it, and yes we love it and get excited about it. In the end WoW cannot replace our real lives and our real friends and family and duties like paying the bills and going to work. We know and respect that each of us have things to do in our lives that take precedence over the game, and we all think they should.

Establishing Leadership
The next step was putting in place a group of wonderful people that wanted to help lead this menagerie. I used to be one of those people that thought "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.". I still do that sometimes and I am most certainly fighting the urge to micromanage all the time, but one thing WoW has taught me is to not. Do not be that person that has to have everything your way. It will not work. There is no incentive for people to stay in a guild where they have to do things other than the way they want to. My first task for myself was to give it up. I knew that if I put up this "I AM" mentality that I would first, be hated and second, be very very overworked. I already have a full time job and life. I was not going to make WoW another job. That was the trick. To turn guild management into not so much of a job job. I did that by empowering my officers to do whatever they felt was best if I was not there. I am lucky to be surrounded by officers I trust. I am not always the greatest decision-maker and I believe that without them KG would surely be a shambles. So I gave all the officers access to just about everything, and the ability to make decisions. I also, hopefully, gave them the knowledge that I would stand behind and help them enforce their decisions. So we all stand together. 
Because of that, I have to say that when someone is singled out as an officer it means something to me. I have to ask myself, is this person reliable? Do I trust them? Would I want them to make decisions about who stays or who goes? Can they handle conflict or will they handle conflict if it shows up when they are the only officer on? In the end it does come down to personality fit and do we like them. As long as we can be honest with each other we can work out the kinks as they come along. At least that's my hope. :)

Bringing it Together
All the decisions I make surrounding the guild are based on these core values. Normally when ideas come my way I chat them up with a couple of the officers. Sometimes at length. Feorah, who works with me in RL, gets the brunt of my discussion and has been a totally awesome and very patient sounding board.  The idea has to pass my strict code of my inner voice. Will it benefit most or the majority of the people and how. Yes, my inner voice is extremely socialist and overly democratic. All guildmates must be able to benefit from something. If we are planning an event can it be held in an area where level 30's attend, that sort of thing. Raiding is a strange exception to that rule. I strive to keep it out there that everyone once they reach the right level of experience is eligible to join in a raid. They will not be excluded from the "group".

Family and Friends
In the end, what I would like to believe is that I've taken KG to a place where we can all have fun together.  This guild is now a wonderful collection of family to me. I have met several in person and chatted to many others. It's where I go when I want to be in my "Cheers" place. Where everyone knows your name and are always there with a "hey how ya doin today?!". Even when sibling squabbles come up and we might pout to each other after a fashion, we all will stick together in the end.

So that's it. Be nice, be strong, surround yourself with brilliant fun people, and above all have a good time!

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