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Officers' Quarters: How do we govern? Part 1



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

All of you guild leaders out there, ask yourself this question: Is your management style most like
__Genghis Khan?
__Thomas Jefferson?
__Queen Elizabeth?
__Kim Jong-il?
__A council of elders?
__An inanimate carbon rod?

I started thinking about the many ways a guild can be managed after receiving the following e-mail. My apologies to Rodrigo in advance -- it was a very insightful, but very long e-mail, and I'm only including about half of it below.

Hey Scott,

First I want to congratulate you for adding such an interesting topic to the biggest WoW blog there is. Hope you keep up the good work!

I'm a civil engineer from the far country of Chile. Before BC came out I was the GM of the biggest Hispanic-talking guild in all the US servers, we had over 250 active accounts and 400 characters. Our only recruitment requisite was being able to talk Spanish . . .

[One of] the true keys to manage a guild this large and diverse was democracy. Officers vote for certain decisions. Guild members vote for certain officers.

I think this point would be a great topic for a blog discussion. For some reason today guilds are ran by their founders . . . The GM is usually the guy that started it all and officers are then elected using different arguments but what is certain is that they are never removed (unless he kinda quits the game). How do you tell your own officers that he isn't wanted by the majority of the guild or that he isn't cutting it? We had leadership elections every 5 months and it worked great . . . All the level 60s had the option to vote via a Web form for officers and officers would then elect the GM. This method automatically removes most of the causes that could eventually destroy the guild . . . like dictators, friendship influences, greedy people in charge, etc

As an engineer I've found that being a GM combines the two biggest challenges of any organizational leadership: Emotional Intelligence and Strategic Management.

Regards,
Rodrigo Jimenez
Riddance @ Smolderthorn-US

First of all, thanks for the awesome letter, Rodrigo! That's definitely the first all-Spanish-speaking guild I've heard of on American servers, though I'm sure there are others.

He also presents an interesting idea about guild management. You rarely hear about guilds holding elections for their leaders, but why not? So I started thinking that there are just as many ways to run a guild as there are to run a nation. Let's talk about a few here.

Dictatorship

By far the most common style of guild governance, there's nothing fair about a dictatorship. As your parents probably told you, "My house, my rules." Like the infamous leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, the dictator's word is law. He or she appoints all officers to be the eyes, ears, mouth, and various other anatomical parts of the one true leader. Loyalists are rewarded. Dissidents and undesirables disappear in the quiet hours of the morning.

Pros: Unified vision; stable leadership; no messy elections or trials; secret nuclear programs
Cons: Voiceless, disenfranchised citizens; may be parodied by South Park creators

Say what you will about it, it's a system that works for many guilds. What's the point of doing all the work and going through the hassle of being a GL if you can't run the guild the way you think it should be? A lot of GL's out there have a good deal of experience under their belts, both from WoW and other online games. Their members may not always like what they have to say, but the ones who have been doing it for a long time are right more often than not. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions. The flip side of the dictatorship coin (you know, the one with your august profile stamped on it) is that if you don't make good decisions, your guild will quickly tank. Unlike most countries governed like this, Warcraft players are free to vote in at least one way: If they don't like the way a guild is run, they can leave.

Constitutional Monarchy

I like to think of my own guild as such. Does that make me Queen Elizabeth? In a certain sense, yes. In this type of government, the monarch rules the kingdom, yet does not hold absolute power. A governing body deals with many of the day-to-day details of running the country. The monarch may exercise a prerogative over the government, but he or she must act according to existing constitutional laws and precedents. The monarch also serves as the symbolic representative of his or her kingdom and plays a large social role, among both the populace and other world leaders.

Pros: More representative than a dictatorship; leadership is stable but not godlike in power; it's good to be the king
Cons: Easy to become too symbolic and lose all voice in government; paparazzi

This style is a good choice for guild leaders who are willing to be more considerate of their members' wishes and opinions -- but who don't want to turn their guild over to just anyone who wanders in off the street and causes a fuss. It's a good compromise: You're sharing both the power and the responsibilities. However, you can't be dethroned on a whim. No one questions whose guild it is. At the same time, you're willing to listen to your "subjects" and magnanimously -- always magnanimously -- address their grievances. Don't forget to keep the family jewels polished!

Democratic Republic

A democratic republic is the place where "All men are created equal," according to Thomas Jefferson. I like to think that, had he lived in our time, he might have been a bit more p.c. with that statement. In this system, all leaders are democratically elected by the citizens (or their electors) and must be reelected on a regular basis in order to stay in power. They can be removed from power if they break the nation's laws. Citizens have rights to privacy, free speech, fair trials, and so on.

Pros: All citizens have a say in who will lead them; new leaders can bring a fresh point of view or a needed change in policy; comforting sense of smug superiority toward other counties' forms of government
Cons: Leadership can be unstable; citizens may choose ineffectual or corrupt leaders; Carrot Top

I'm intrigued by this idea. How many of you would be willing to hold an election for the GL and officer positions in your guild? How many of you think you would win? I think I'd win, but maybe I'm being naive. Or maybe no one else wants the job . . .

How would you implement a system like that? Private messages and in-game mail can be counterfeited. Web sites can be hacked. Votes in guild chat could get awfully messy -- and they'd be awfully public. It's fun to think about the possibility of guild members lining up to trade one impartial member either a Linen Cloth, a Copper Ore, or a Peacebloom to cast their vote.

And what happens when the current administration gets voted out? Do they stick around to advise the new incumbents, secretly hoping the whole operation will come crumbling down without their steady hand to guide it? Do they return to "civilian" life and join another guild as ordinary members, free from all cares and burdens?

Could it be set up like that drinking game (NSFW) we all played in college where the new "President" gets to make up just one new rule? As you can see, I'm very curious about this and I'd like to hear from other guilds who have tried this Great Experiment.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more forms of guild government in Part 2 next Monday!

/salute

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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