A good raid leader is the heart and soul of a successful raiding guild. Guilds have been made and broken by these stalwart, savvy, and thick-skinned individuals. A great raid leader is a truly special asset that all guilds seek but few are lucky enough to find.
The rest have to settle for whomever is willing. Unfortunately, while willingness can be difficult to find in and of itself, the role requires so much more than that. Those who fail at it often do so in spectacular fashion. Others are less obvious in their failure, and their raiders suffer for years as a result. How can you tell your raid leader isn't managing the job very well? Read on.
(Also, before I start the list, I want to note that every single item here is drawn from a real example. I've either experienced it personally or I've read about it in emails from you. This column was actually inspired by an email from RBG Leader. Thanks!)
1. Your raid leader is quiet in Vent. A raid leader needs to be the most vocal person on a raid team. He or she has to coordinate mechanics, explain guild-specific strategies, call out for cooldowns and battle rezzes, warn the raid of impending special abilities, get on people's case when they're consistently messing up the same thing, announce breaks, request suggestions, etc., etc., etc. It's not a role for the shy.
As a corollary to this, if your raid leader never posts anything on your website about strategies, preparation, specs/gear, attendance, scheduling, etc., that's a bad sign, too.
2. Your raid leader doesn't offer a strategy until after the group wipes five times. "Just pull." Those two words have doomed more attempts than perhaps any other phrase. "Just pull" usually means the raid leader doesn't have the knowledge or the patience to set up groups, assign tanks/healers, or whatever else the encounter requires.
3. When people ask strategy questions, your raid leader mysteriously AFKs. They are not taking a bio. They are not making Hot Pockets. They are frantically researching the boss so they can come up with some kind of answer. They don't want to admit that they have absolutely no idea.
I've actually heard of a raid leader who did this for 20 minutes in the middle of the raid, with no warning or explanation, to research a fight. Speaking of ...
4. Your raid leader doesn't understand basic raid etiquette. AFKing without telling anyone is one thing. Showing up an hour late is another story altogether -- or suddenly having to leave without offering any reason why. When your raid leader makes it clear that his or her time is more valuable than everyone else's in the raid, it's a horrible precedent that will lead to similar behavior from many of your other raiders.
5. Your raid leader struggles at his or her role. The best raid leaders can play any class and any role with competence. At their preferred role, they are masters of it. If your raid leader is constantly lurking at the bottom of the DPS charts, can't hold aggro, or fails at keeping tanks alive, then you've got a problem. They don't know how to fix their own performance, so they certainly won't be able to help anyone else fix theirs.
6. Your raid leader automatically blames the same person(s) for every wipe. We've probably all seen this: a raid leader who blames the healers or a few low DPSers no matter who or what else may have actually caused the wipe. It's a sign of lazy leadership. A good raid leader takes the time to analyze a wipe, including asking for input from other players when necessary, before making adjustments to prevent that same wipe from happening again. If a raid leader is just pinning the wipes on someone convenient, then those critical adjustments never happen. The raid will continue to make the same mistakes.
7. When your raid leader makes a mistake, he or she refuses to own up to it. Accountability is a huge portion of raid success, and it's also a hallmark of good leadership. How can you expect anyone in your raid to admit to a mistake when the raid leader won't? Instead, people will hedge and deflect, resentment will build, and soon you'll be writing to the Drama Mamas.
8. Your raid leader has zero patience. If your raid leader explodes at the slightest provocation or flies into a frothing rage at the mere hint of slacking, then he or she probably needs a break from the game -- and perhaps some anger management therapy. The sad thing is that many guilds will tolerate this behavior. Like it or not, this leadership style often does produce results. However, the stress from never wanting to be the person getting a virtual tongue-lashing can burn out your raiders at a rapid pace.
9. Your raid leader gives out loot based on bribes or personal relationships. This one is rather self-explanatory.
If you raid leader exhibits any of these behaviors, your guild leader needs to speak with him or her to shape up and get the raid back on track. If your raid leader exhibits most of these behaviors, it may be a good idea to start looking for a replacement. If your raid leader exhibits none of these behaviors, bake that person some cookies!
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.