Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Sense In Humour

The more observant ones of you will have noticed that I've recently updated my 'Introduction' post to include a 'good humour agreement'. It basically says that anything on this blog isn't meant to be directly offensive to anyone. Readers of Leading A Guild should have realised that while I'm serious about the issues I talk about, it doesn't mean I can't deal with them in an amusing and ultimately pragmatic fashion. This philosophy can also be applied to actually leading a guild, as I prefer to lead through level-headedness coupled with a (virtual) smile, rather than use absurdly strict rules. This might seem a little contradictory to what I've said before, but lording over the guild while your members enjoy themselves is different from demanding absolute authority. I try to encourage the former and despise the latter, but can you still lead a guild when your members only take you semi-seriously?

It's all about knowing when to joke around and when to buckle down and do some work. The guy who spends all day telling jokes in Ventrillo is never going to get his guild to progress as far as the leader who opts for a healthy balance between implementing rules and letting members do want they like. Although telling jokes all day may seem like a good way to get guildies to like you, the lack of proper productivity will actually cause you to lose respect in their eyes. Of course if you lead a social guild then none of that really matters, as people join up mainly to be entertained anyway. However, if you're a raiding pioneer, then being too comical at the wrong moments will simply leave you being perceived as the 'clown' to your men and women. I've never seen a clown kill the Lich King, although they may be able to by the time Cataclysm rolls around.

Even simply being pleasant may lead to your downfall under certain circumstances. Failure to punish a rebel or push on with a raid run at the right time can spell disaster for your guild. In these situations you'll find that the outcome is more down to luck than a pre-determined set of variables. You may think 'if I /gkick this guy he's going to go off and spread crap about me', or 'if I call for another go on this boss people will rage quit if we wipe'. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and then put your guild into the hands of fate. If you make consistent choices in line with the guild's overall goal and can justify them, it's likely no one will argue with you. Conversely, if the guy you wish to punish hasn't properly violated your established rules, or you're making a social guild raid until 1AM - then expect for your members to express discontent. Tapping into what people expect of you will make things run a lot more smoothly and you'll know whether to play the good or bad guy in these instances. I can't go ahead and tell you to be 50% arsehole and 50% nice guy, because some occasions will call for you to be more of one than the other.

I will say one thing though: Let the conditions you find the guild faced with dictate your mood, not the other way around. It is acceptable to be angry with your members if people have been taking more than they've been giving to the guild bank. It's not acceptable to be angry with your members if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Allowing your own hormones to run the guild is a very primitive and unwise action to take and within a week you'll be branded as a fickle monster who no one will want as their master.

In summary:
  • Writing blog posts at 4AM is not a good idea.

  • Having a sense of humour is a good thing, but being the guild clown is not so good.

  • Don't be afraid to be the arsehole, if people are clearly deserving it.

[Image credits go to these guys for the Hitler picture, these guys for the clown shoes and this site for the fairly unrelated 'nice guy' pic.]

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