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Officers' Quarters: The right stuff

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

Think you've got what it takes to be an officer? The author of this week's e-mail does, but he wants to know how I figure out who is fit for the position. I've never really talked about it before, so now is as good a time as ever. Here's the e-mail:
Hey Scott,

Just wondering what the criteria is (for you at least) about becoming a guild officer. I once was one in my old guild, but after some drama we disbanded, and I've been with a new guild for quite a while. I'm extremely interested in an officer position. What do you think?

Raliant

First of all, let me just say this: There's no way to know how someone is going to react to the pressure inherent in serving as an officer. Someone could be the most level-headed person in the world, but when a situation blows up -- and they're at the center of it -- they could just go off the deep end. So selecting officers is always dicey at best. But there are certain traits that can help your new officers succeed.

Here's what I look for, ranked in order of importance:

1. Maturity

In an online game like Warcraft, where the consequences of your actions are few, it's way too easy to be a jackass. Anyone who's played for longer than a few days has run into plenty of people who just need to grow up. Maturity doesn't mean you can't joke around or be silly. And it's not necessarily tied to a person's age. Being mature means you know when it's okay to joke around and when you need to take something seriously. It also means treating others with respect and doing the right thing regardless of whether you can get away with doing the wrong thing. First and foremost, an officer needs maturity to help guide their actions and decisions.

2. Generosity

Someone who never wants to share consumables or use a transmute cooldown for a guildmate is a bad choice. Selfish officers don't last long in most guilds, because inevitably they do something stupid that causes an outcry. Then they're either canned or half the guild leaves in a mass exodus. An officer has to share a commodity more precious than loot or gold: time. Those who hoard their tangible resources are rarely willing to part with their intangible ones. Guilds need officers that don't mind spending an hour to resolve a dispute or tutor someone on how to perform better at their class.

3. Good Communication Skills

Sounds like something an employer would put on a help wanted ad for an assistant, doesn't it? This quality is often overlooked, but it is essential. Nobody wants to deal with an officer who can't express themselves. Officers sometimes have to explain a complex set of loot rules, lead members through an intricate raid encounter, or mediate an explosive disagreement. All of these things require effective communication. Anyone who spends 10 minutes reading the official Warcraft forums (at least the American ones) will tell you that communication skills are not necessarily common among the player base. So if you find someone that can form complete sentences when needed and also has the two traits I listed above, that person is very likely to make a good officer. If he or she also has the traits below, that's just gravy.

4. Emotional Intelligence and Control

Like it or not, Warcraft is more than just a game: It's a society. Whenever people interact, emotions come into play. Part of an officer's job is dealing with these emotions. To do that, you have to be able to put yourself in another person's shoes and understand where they're coming from and why they feel the way they do, whether they're angry, hurt, depressed, jealous, joyous or any and all of the above. Beyond that, you have to take these emotions into account when you're trying to defuse a bad situation. You have to do your best to resolve it without causing more bad feelings, but you also need to recognize when those bad feelings are inevitable and soldier on anyway. That's emotional intelligence.

Hand-in-hand with that concept is emotional control -- doing your job with compassion and care, even when you are the one feeling angry or hurt. Emotional outbursts happen, but an officer must keep them private among the other leaders. Don't let the members know they're having that effect on you. If they find out, the unscrupulous among them may use it against you in the future.

5. Game Knowledge

Last but not least, your officers must have working knowledge of the game and their class. They are (more often than not) your recruiters, your class leaders, and your ambassadors to the community at large. You don't want your members or your server to think your guild is clueless!

People with all five of the above qualities are extremely rare. To round out your officer corps, the best you can do is to find people who are suited to certain roles. For example, find someone who's got outstanding game knowledge and good communication skills: That's your raid leader. Then find someone who's mature with excellent emotional intelligence: That's your go-to person for solving drama. Ideally, all of your officers, taken together, will make up one perfect officer!

There are of course other criteria: Time spent in the guild is a big one. Blizzard hasn't really given guilds any way to reward loyalty. There's no benefit to staying with a particular guild over time aside from the incentives provided by the officers themselves. So when a member sticks with your guild through the rough periods that all guilds experience from time to time, it means they are committed. People who have been around for a long time also understand the guild, its goals, and its membership better than someone who is relatively new.

Another factor to consider is how involved in the community a potential officer has been in their time with the guild. Are they active on the forums? Do they engage in group content like dungeons, raids, and arena teams? Do they attend special events? Have they volunteered to help with guild duties? Do most members know who this person is? These are all important questions to ponder.

Finally, is this someone the other officers can work with? Your officers don't all have to be best friends forever, but they have to get along well enough to work together toward your common goals.

Raliant, I wish you luck in your quest toward officership. The desire to make a difference is one trait that can't be overlooked!

/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: Guilds, Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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