Relationship between Guild Members & Leaders

Copied from the original posted by Tilsen

The purpose of this essay is to examine the relationship between guild leadership and guild members in guilds in World of Warcraft (WoW). This essay discusses the following concepts:

# The game mechanics of WoW as they relate to guild leadership and how these game mechanics dictate the inherent organization of a guild in WoW.

# A proposal for two (three?) methods by which guild policies and responsibilities are established.

# The concepts of influence, power, and trust and how they establish the boundaries and distinctions between guild leadership and guild members and the relationship between the two groups.

# How all the previous concepts can be used together as a context for defining current and future guild policies and responsibilities within a guild.

On WoW Game Mechanics and Inherent Hierarchy in Guilds:

The nature of WoW game mechanics are such that the process of creating a new guild in the game requires one person to purchase a guild charter and invite nine other players to sign the guild charter. After nine signatures have been collected, the guild is formed and the player who purchased the guild charter becomes the Guild Master (GM). At this point, the GM has absolute control over the in-game features, functions, and responsibilities of the guild. By design, the GM can delegate functions and responsibilities by creating ranks and giving those ranks access and permissions to certain game functions.

However, the GM cannot delegate or share every GM capability and retains ultimate and singular control over certain aspects of the guild. Therefore, by game design, every guild in WoW has an ultimate leader with responsibilities and functions delegated down from this single position creating an inherent and unavoidable hierarchy. One GM to rule them all, and in the Guild Settings interface to bind them.

On Establishing Guild Policies beyond Guild Creation:

While the game mechanics of how the GM position works cannot be disputed, there are many other aspects of a guild that are left to its members to decide. These aspects of the guild are typically defined in general in a guild charter and defined to a certain degree of detail in guild policies. After the purpose, focus, and goals of the guild are defined by the charter members or the GM, the guild then works towards meeting those ideals in the appropriate manner. These methods vary widely depending on the guild and its purpose. Raiding guilds recruit raiders, family guilds build community and so on.

When a guild grows beyond its charter members, new dynamics begin to express themselves. The separation between guild members and guild leadership becomes more defined. As a guild works to adjust to a growing membership, new or revised policies and responsibilities may need to be implemented to continue to meet the ideals of the guild.

There are two ways guilds can establish or revise guild policies. One is the guild leadership down method and the second is the guild membership up method. The terms up and down are used here to mirror the inherent hierarchy dictated by WoW game mechanics.

In summary:
Guild Leadership Down (GLD):
Guild Leadership sets policy and executes them.

Guild Membership Up (GMU):
Guild members set policy for the guild and the guild leadership executes those policies and responsibilities.

In the GLD method, the guild members, as a whole, are not part of the process for establishing or revising guild policies. Ideally, the guild leadership takes into account any opinions of the guild membership that they know of and consider solely what is best for the guild when making any changes to guild policy. After any policy is updated, it is published to guild.

In the GMU method, a guild policy is presented to the guild membership, as a whole, who discuss, vote, and decide on any changes made to the policy.

Drawbacks to both methods:
Both GLD and GMU have their limitations on effectiveness. If a guild relies solely on the GLD method for deciding policy changes, the guild leadership runs the risk of enacting policy against the desires of the majority of the guild. The guild leadership also runs the risk of falling into a state of unjust dominion where abuses of position, corruption, and deceit are present. On the other hand, a guild that relies solely on the GMU method can quickly fall into factions within guild membership or become bogged down with staggering red tape where every decision must be put to a vote.

Because of the inherant hierarchy in WoW guilds, most guilds, employ both methods when making policy change. In fact, some policy changes use both methods simultaneously when the guild leadership proposes a policy change that then gets ratified by the guild membership. This perhaps could be classified as a third method some refer to as the Guild Leadership tosses it up and the Guild Membership knocks it out of the park (GLTIU&GMKIOTP) method.

On Influence, Power, and Trust:

There are three concepts at work in any guild, namely influence, power, and trust. This section defines each of these concepts and discusses how they interact within a guild environment.

Influence within a guild is defined as the ability to sway or direct the workings of a guild. Influence can affect things like what raiding targets are scheduled, who gets invited to the guild, policy changes, loot rules, group composition in raids, in-raid decisions, and more. Typically, the amount of influence an individual has within a guild is directly proportional to the position that individual holds within the guild or the amount of responsibility that has been delegated to that individual. For example, guild officers have a wide variety of responsibilities delegated to them. As such, they have a wide influence, if even only perceived as such. On the other hand, typically, guild members have no responsibility delegated to them and as a result have little influence on the direction of the guild.

As a case in point, consider the creation of a Raid Committee (RC) with in a guild. If an RC is created, the guild will immediately witness a shift in influence even among officers of the guild. If non-officer guild members are added to the RC, those members will also see their influence in the guild rise. The non-officer RC members are now able to be Raid Leaders, contribute to and determine boss kill strategies, schedule individuals for raids, set groups in raids, and determine raid targets, all points of influence far and above what they had before.

Power within a guild is defined as the collective effort of the guild to progress towards or continue to meet the goals and ideals of the guild. This power does not reside in the hands of the guild leadership, but is firmly in the hands of the guild membership. This power can be summed up in one simple game command: /gquit

The idea here is that without members, all the influence in the world means nothing. If through the guild leadership’s influence they create a condition where everyone in the guild leaves, that influence completely disappears. This applies to all aspects of the guild and extends beyond just quitting the guild. If in the future, everyone stopped signing up for raids, a Raid Committee would have no influence.

Trust within a guild is the binding force between power and influence. Both power and influence on their own, mean nothing. As explained previously, if members exercise their power to leave the guild, the influence of the guild leadership would immediately disappear. Likewise, if all the guild leadership stopped functioning, no major initiatives within the guild would occur. There would be no loot system, no guild bank, no forums maintenance, or any of the responsibilities of the guild leadership. The binding force then is a two-way, renewing cycle of trust. Guild members trust the guild leadership to lead them and in doing so, grant them influence over the affairs of the guild. Guild leadership builds trust with the members of the guild by using their influence to lead in a fair and efficient manner.

If at any time that trust is broken, it can spell disaster for a guild. If any misuse or abuse of that trust is found out, officers can be ousted or guild members can be booted. If the breach in trust is severe enough, the entire guild can crumble in the ensuing drama. So long as this trust feedback loop remains unbroken, the guild continues to function.

On Establishing a Context for Defining Current and Future Guild Policies:

It is proposed that the main goal of the guild leadership is to maintain the trust of the guild membership. To that end, the guild leadership must do the following:
# Conduct guild business in a fair, transparent, and efficient manner.

# Give the guild membership opportunities for active participation in appropriate guild decisions.

# Demonstrate the lack of any unjust dominion including the lack of self-serving behavior, corruption, favoritism, or unfettered authority.

There are only two simple steps for accomplishing these items as follows:
# Understand and acknowledge the trust relationship the guild leadership has with the guild membership.

# Establish the appropriate balance between GLD, GMU, and GLTIU&GMKIOTP policies and guild decisions.

Easy right? Maybe not. Number 2 there can be a real challenge, but doable. The concept is this: The Guild Leadership goes through every guild policy and responsibility and determines if the future direction should be determined by the GLD, GMU, or GLTIU&GMKIOTP method.

First, recognize that the method for many of your policies and responsibilities are already determined. Some examples:

Raid Targets: GMU
Raid Committee Members: GLD
Raid Group Composition: GLD
Guild Charter, Loot Policy, Vault Policy, and Raid Policy: GLTIU&GMKIOTP
Official Guild Dessert: GMU
Loot System: GLD

Depending on the focus and structure of your guild, you may find that the majority of your decisions and policies are GLD. While this certainly gets things done in a quick manner, your leadership maybe alienating the membership by not giving them some kind of say in how the guild is run. This can often lead to discontent and resentment of the Guild Leadership.

Each guild is inherently different simply because of the wide variety of personalities in a guild and the wide variety of guild goals. However, I submit that every guild could benefit from evaluating their processes and decision making channels and determine if some changes could be made to help guild moral or to tighten up a loosely run guild. If the decisions are consciously made as to the method used to enact policies, and those methods are published, then guild members can at least form an informed opinion on how the guild is run.

For example, if you have a hard-core, content pushing guild, you may want to have a small guild leadership who makes most if not all decisions by the GLD method. By being up front with how the guild will be run, you can build an expectation and any new recruits will know what they are getting into. Better to be honest than to have new recruits feel frustrated after two months of raiding and leave the guild because they can’t handle how the guild is run.

In Conclusion:

The point of this essay is to get guild leadership thinking about the relationship they have with their guild membership and what keeps that relationship healthy. Namely, Trust is the binding force that keeps guild leadership connected with the membership and keeps the membership willing to promote and support the guild leadership.

Also, by making conscious decisions about the methods you want to use for making guild policy, a guild can establish its overall demeanor, whether it’s primarily a GLD or GMU guild or a mix of the two. By establishing a stance for your guild, it will be easier to recruit like-minded players who will be comfortable in your guild setting.

Build trust, establish consistent patterns in the guild leadership, and succeed.

About the Author