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Officers' Quarters: 9 suggestions for a new guild leader

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Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

This week's email is short and to the point. A player who wants to take the plunge into guild leadership is nervous about the prospect. I have some suggestions for him that I think can also apply to just about any officer, but first, the email:

Hello Scott,

I've been playing WoW for an extremely long time, a shameful amount of time to be fair... but I've never been happy with the guilds I've been in, so I'm thinking about starting my own guild. I'm willing to put the effort and money into making it work. I mean, I've got a crazy amount of ideas I'd like to implement to create a sense of community and loyality into the guild but I'm absolutely petrified about starting off. The recruitment for example just seems so damn daunting! I'm scared Scott :( but I'm afraid I won't be able to see the content the way I like to see it if I don't do this though.

From Craig of Azjol-Nerub EU

Hi, Craig. I'm always thrilled to hear about players who are ready and willing to lead. I'm happy to help you. Also, I love your lists. Here's mine.

1. Have a vision. Hundreds of people a week, I'm betting, say to themselves, I want to start a guild and do things my way. But what they really mean is, I want to start a guild exactly like all the other guilds out there, but I want to be in charge this time. When you say you want to see content "your way," that sends up a red flag to me.

What exactly is "your way"? How is it different from other officers' methods? You need to nail down a set of principles that defines exactly how you want to run the guild. These principles are the primary way you can set your guild apart from all the other guilds that you didn't quite gel with. They will be your most crucial selling points, and if they aren't specific or compelling enough, then recruiting will be just as difficult as you fear.

2. Put in the work first. Too many players think getting the charter signed is the only thing they need to do before they start bringing players on board. That's actually one of the last steps you should take. It's far more essential to think about how exactly the guild will operate, what officer roles will be required, what sorts of players you will seek to recruit, how you will deal with raiding and other group activities, etc.

It doesn't matter at this point if you're right or wrong about these things. You can amend them later if you have to. Just write them all down. That says to players that you are serious about this endeavor and that you have a specific plan to carry out instead of a generic idea.

Setting up a web site and a Vent server also send that message, but they aren't as important early in the process.

3. Get some friends on board. It's incredibly difficult to start a guild entirely from scratch when it's just you. That first person who joins is going to see that you and him/her are the only players on the roster, and if they don't immediately quit you should consider yourself very lucky. It's far better to have a handful of players who share the same ideas you do and are willing to help you with the hard work. Don't even create the guild itself until you have at least three or four people. The guild levels will barely budge at that size anyway, so it's not horribly detrimental to wait.

4. Be enthusiastic. When you talk to people about your guild, you have to sound excited. You seem like you are from your email -- carry that over into conversations with players. If you're not excited about the guild, why should anyone else be?

5. Don't exaggerate. You can, however, talk optimistically about your goals, as long as it's clear that they are goals you're striving for and not givens. Certainly you should talk about the awesome things your guild is doing right now. Don't be afraid to talk about the guild's shortcomings, either, if the person asks you about them. Honesty goes a long way online. Also, someone who declines to join looks way better to your current members than someone who joins and then quits within a day or two when they realize the truth. If that happens a few times, players will start to question the viability of the guild.

6. Ask for help. If you find the experience overwhelming, don't be afraid to ask your current members to help out. Just make sure you ask for help with specific tasks, and not just vaguely ask for "help running the guild." Many players think that means simply being an officer who's online to invite alts.

7. Admit to mistakes. We all make blunders now and then. It could be that you forgot about a loot rule and gave an item to the wrong person, or you invited someone who turns out to be a huge jerk. The worst thing you can do is try to sweep it under the rug. Guild members need to trust their leaders if the guild is going to have any kind of future. Explain to your members what happened and why, even if it's embarrassing. Then fix it. They'll respect you a lot more than if they catch you in a cover-up.

8. Don't give up. Founding a guild is not an easy thing to do these days. You probably won't find success immediately. However, if you keep working hard, hang on to your enthusiasm, and stay true to the principles you believe in, then odds are you will eventually find players who respond to that.

9. Have fun! People often lose sight of this amidst the drama and drudgery that can take over a guild, but it's supposed to be about having fun. The minute it stops being fun as an overall experience is when you need to sit down and evaluate how you've reached that point and what you can do to make it fun again.

What advice would you give this aspiring guild leader? Tell us below!

/salute

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 scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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