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Officers' Quarters: Pistols at dawn?

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Most GLs can't handle all the duties of running a guild by themselves. We rely on our officers to pitch in and set a good example. But what happens when one of your officers wants to run things differently than you do? That brings us to this week's question:

I'm the GL of a small, up-and-coming guild. We started the guild with the full intention of having fun while accomplishing our goals first and foremost. The guild was started by myself and several friends of mine from real life. Well we started to expand and have since tripled our numbers. This has also tripled the amount of drama that has occurred as well. But, the main focus of this drama has come from one of the lead officers who is the newest edition to the rank. He's arrogant, pushy, quick to snap and his judgement isn't exactly what I would call favorable in given situations.

But, and here's the main problem: he is also someone I've known for several years in real life.

He is now trying to undermine my authority as guild leader by pitting people against others. Don't get me wrong, he has excellent leadership abilities at times and is always first to admit when he makes a mistake. With that said though, every apology he gives comes with an underlying "but." If he weren't someone I knew from real life, I would have the answer in a heartbeat. But because he is someone that is supposed to be a friend of mine, I'm not entirely sure how to deal with this. He is online a lot more than I am. He does motivate people to do things. And he is rather charismatic at times. On the opposite side of that coin though, his "quick to snap" and "my way or the highway" attitude totally conflicts with our original intentions for the guild. The lines are being drawn between people and I've already seen this in action. I don't know if this is something you have come across, but I'm really looking for some solid advice if possible. Thank you for your time. --Jim

If all else fails, Jim, you can always suggest the Aaron Burr approach. But perhaps there's another, less gunpowder-y solution.

As GL of a diverse guild, I do my best to make sure that I have a diverse officer core. Not all of your members are going to agree with you on every point, so why should your officers? It's a mixed blessing having officers that are willing and perhaps eager to question your decisions. On one hand, they may have a new and valuable perspective that saves you from making a terrible mistake. On the other, if they disagree with you on the fundamental principles of the guild, it can become an irreconcilable difference of opinion. But does it have to be? That all depends on how you and your officer handle the situation.

If you allow this officer to question your authority repeatedly and publicly without taking action, it can only work to his or her advantage. Your guild will fracture into camps. Whispers and secret chat channels will rule the day as people pick sides in a conflict that will eventually come to a breaking point. The inevitable explosion could result in a large portion of your membership leaving to form another guild.

The best course of action in this situation is to have an honest discussion about how each of you believe the guild should be run and where you'd like the guild to be down the road. Put it all on the table. Jim has an advantage in this case because the officer is someone he already knows well. As a result of this conversation, you might find that you both have similar views on the guild, but that your methods of carrying out the day-to-day business differ. It sounds like Jim's officer isn't as patient or understanding as Jim would like. If the officer can't always reign in this attitude, you have to draw a line, whether it's a ban from swearing or asking the officer to defer disciplinary action to someone a little less intense.

I have a few officers in my own guild that tend to be impatient and outspoken, and they can actually be an asset sometimes. I'd never ask them to settle an argument between members. That isn't their strength. But they do make excellent raid leaders since organizing a large group of people into an efficient raid requires a certain amount of attitude.

However, you may also discover that the two of you have very different views on what you'd like the guild to become. It's better to learn this now than later. Then you need to make a decision. You can take the hard line and say, "I don't like this and I won't stand for it," in which case it may be better for this officer to leave the guild or step down from his post. Or you can consult your other officers about these same questions. They may propose an effective compromise. They may also side against you. As time goes by, guilds can and do change. Maybe yours has expanded enough to reach the point of no return. As membership grows, it becomes more difficult to be relaxed when it comes to rules and policies. "Just have fun" doesn't always work, since one member's idea of fun can result in someone else having a rotten time online. If the majority of your officers think it's time for a change, maybe they're right. You chose them for a reason, so hear them out.

Either way, the important thing is that the issues are on the table where you can deal with them, instead of festering in the background and poisoning the atmosphere you've worked so hard to foster.

Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott.andrews@weblogsinc.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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