p.s. ur an elitist

I’m cheating here, writing this post before I have really delved too far into my daily NaNo goals. Because it’s how I roll – and I’ve been having these thought clattering about in my brain for a while now and as I have mentioned before, I often try to figure things out by talking to myself this way. Lucky you for getting to be privy to it, I know.

The E’s

I’ve recently been called elitist by two of my officers. That word has a lot of connotations in WoW and it’s difficult to determine exactly what is meant by it. I don’t think it was applied to me in a “you’re a super total jerk who thinks she is better than she actually is” way in either instance, but it has me thinking.

Mostly, I am thinking about expectations. I have always had expectations that people around me should be capable of going through life with a certain level of decency and skill. These are not easy things to quantify and I won’t even try. Since this is a WoW blog and I am talking about expectations in a guild, I’ll focus on that.

I have a certain standard for myself when it comes to being in a leadership role in a guild. It’s always been my viewpoint that if you’re leading anything, you have to do so by example. There is nothing more galling than someone who holds the philosophy that you should do as they say, not as they do. To that end, all of the things I would like my officers to pitch in with and help out with, I try to be an expert in them as well.

“I must not decide on my own performance.” So Elizabeth told Mr. Darcy and so I must admit I feel. It’s not for me to say how close I may or may not have hit the mark on any of the things I have tried to be an expert in. I have certainly tried my hardest when it comes to raid leading and when it comes to charting the course for the guild.

Obviously that leaves me somewhat spread thin, trying to be expert at everything I want done. And obviously there must be things that ought to be done that I have not even considered because I am so busy trying to keep everything else in the air [insert ball joke here].

With the word elitist ringing in my ear (and let me state that I’m not carrying the word around like it’s some heavy boulder that is crushing me – I’m not that affected by it), I find myself wondering whether I have, in trying to be an expert in everything, created expectations that my officers feel they cannot meet.

That sounds egotistical on paper, so I want to switch to the other side of this coin for a moment.

Self-doubt and failure

I struggle with feelings of failure and self-doubt fairly often as a leader. After all, I’ve never really held a supervisory position in any of my jobs – oh, I’ve been a shift lead here and there, but by and large, nothing in management has ever come my way – and I am not certain that several years as an officer and GM really give me anything to point to and highlight as experience.

The fact is, I have failed a lot over the years. I’ve made hasty decisions and I’ve pushed At into a few ugly situations. I have not gotten many things right on the first or even second tries. But I have learned some things to avoid and some ways to more subtly get people to do what I want them to do. I have made colossal errors in the heat of emotion and I have mastered my emotion to allow logic to dictate my actions. I have destroyed relationships and I have salvaged them.

It’s been the hell of a ride, but the main point is that I do have these failures in my past and I haven’t always learned from them right away or come away with the right lesson the first time.

Something that has been nagging at me lately is the thought that a good leader shouldn’t beat down people to the point where those people don’t feel like they can ever meet expectations. I think a good leader gives those under them the room to grow into their strengths.

But then there’s motivation

So now I am feeling caught between a rock and hard place when it comes to dealing effectively with my officers. I have tried to express many times that I want them to find what it is they like to do within all the things in a guild that need to be done and have the freedom to pursue their strengths.

I am not certain that the message is getting through the way I intend it.

Generally speaking, I most often feel that it would be less hassle for me to do all the things that I see that need to be done than it would be to try to get someone else to take on a part of the burden. That could say a lot of things about me or my officers or even my guildies in general, and I am truly not trying to point fingers and declare that I am better than anyone else or that I am the only person who ever contributes, because I do see contributions.

They just don’t come on my timeline or in the way I expect that they should.

Part of this, I think, is some sickness in me that assumes I do have the best way of doing things because I have put in the time and effort to find what is most efficient. Which is, I think, not a horrible way to view things, but the sickness comes in when I don’t allow for other people having different ways of doing things.

In other words, I might place the most value on the shortest, quickest and most direct route – but does it then follow that there is no value in taking the scenic road?

There’s no value in it to me. That’s all I know.

Hallmarks of a great leader

I’ve honestly never had anyone in my life that I would follow to the gates of hell because I respected their leadership to the extent that I thought they could do no wrong. This is likely a good thing, since everyone fucks something up along the way. But I do find myself wondering what sort of leader that person would be.

I do wonder what other people look for in the figures they follow.

Searching desperately for a conclusion

I don’t know that I’ve done anything but muddy the waters more for myself. I do have some ideas on how to improve the system I have going, but they need to percolate a while longer before being brought out for general consumption.

Over the last few days, I’ve started a few conversations with various people about topics related to this one. Those people in my life who really understand how I tick are telling me that I am too soft and that I don’t hold people to a high enough standard.

I don’t know what to make of that in the light of having people around me who seem to believe that I have impossible standards. For all that I have imposed on my guild in particular, I don’t see any of my expectations as being particularly onerous or – my other favorite word that has a lot of connotations in WoW - hardcore.

I am searching for a way to reconcile my basic standard of leading by example with what I perceive as being other people’s motivations to be in a leadership position. I am the GM of WWAB because I am willing to put in the work it takes to see us succeed. I understand that there really aren’t any perks to being in a leadership position.

I just don’t believe in my heart that everyone else sees it that same way. And perhaps, at its core, that is the void that lies between me and nearly everyone else I try to work with to make WWAB better.

But it’s still a confusing place here, between feeling let down and wondering if it’s something about the way I do things that makes people not even want to try.

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19 Responses to p.s. ur an elitist

  1. ArcaneTinkerTank says:

    Leadership is the sometime voluntary act and sometime involuntary act of being a punching bag. You will not and cannot please all the people all the time. I for example am extremely displeased with the guild’s lack of unreasonably high subsidies to gnomes. I haven’t brought this to your attention yet, but you should have known because despite your claims to not be a mind reader I know you know I think differently!!

    As for elitism in WoW, I don’t think you are an elitist if you hold standards people should meet in order to meet a common goal. Raidng for example is a team sport. We need 10 people who know at some competent(though not amazing) level what they are doing. Likewise setting goals for officer expectations (manage the bank, recruit, organize and rune vents) is necessary to runa guild. If someone is incapable or unwilling to do the work, why be an officer?

    • Alas says:

      I do not want to be a punching bag! That’s what the gnomes are for!

      As to the rest, you know I have been around and around on the issue several times before. I don’t have good answers – but I hope I have some good ideas.

  2. Jinx says:

    If AT&T gets to talk about the abuse of gnomes then by all means let me get on that band wagon for Boomkins. I mean come on, we are like uber and you don’t even look our way. *puts tissue to eyes*

    Anything else, I’ll address offline. :-)

  3. Syl says:

    So much of what you write resonates with me. :) I can see why your officers remark has made you thinking and it’s always a good thing to listen to those closest to you and question yourself every now and then – even if it’s only to come to the conclusion that you do not agree with what they are saying or that you are misrepresented by it (which IS also one valid conclusion to reach at times as I have found).

    Me personally, I believe that there is simply different people: there is leader types and there’s executive types and followers. I have always been the outspoken kind that takes initiative in a group and I know that people like me have a side to them that is a ‘mad perfectionist’ and also a bit of a control-freak. you gotta be if you take it on yourself to lead others in the best possible way. I have always felt a strong obligation towards my guild as a co-GM, sometimes to the point of almost killing myself to take care of things, writing posts, communicating etc. etc.
    but I accept that about myself and I see why it is a common trait in people at the ‘front’. like you I have been called things like ‘elitist snob’ in the past, or any substitute of ‘tough and heartless’ or any other rubbish by people that couldn’t stand the fact that I have high standards I hold myself to and those around me. and the truth is that you’re worst on yourself, your own worst critic – even if you don’t say that on parties.
    I’m a very driven and loyal person that is passionate about seeing my guild succeed, I put that goal above myself.
    If anyone doesn’t get that or judges me prematurely, well then fuck them and pardon my french!

    What you need to find though is a balance for your own sake. I’ve been burned out in wow twice, over carrying too much load and part of that is telling yourself that you really have to. – you don’t. I know a lot of my past pressures were also self-created.
    I actually believe a good guild is a guild where you can replace any officer and it will still run – if that’s not the case, you got work to do. learn to protect yourself from too much pressure and learn most of all to delegate. oh and it’s hard hehe, because you don’t trust anyone to do stuff as good as you could right ;) but the truth is like you said, many paths can lead to rome. you’re good at what you’re doing but you should never become or think of yourself as indispensable. for your guild’s sake as much as your own.

    as for pressuring others too much, I would say that it is about balance. ask yourself which standards are really important to you / your guild and be strict (and transparent) about those. I’m rather adamant when it comes to that in a guild because I know how everyone suffers from too much compromise in the long run.
    as long as that is not affected, there’s certainly room to support ‘weaker’ or slower players, help them improve and be patient. but the room and timeframe for things like that do very much depend on your type of guild. not every guild has the means, will or time to shape the same diamonds.

    sorry for the long WoT hehe, got a bit carried away there! ^^

    • Alas says:

      This post seems to have inspired Wall o’ Text replies. I like that because not only do I get valuable insight from other people, it also helps me feel less alone as I struggle with the slippery beast that is guild leadership.

      Speaking of resonating - I know that people like me have a side to them that is a ‘mad perfectionist’ and also a bit of a control-freak – made me nod along. I have admitted my control-freak tendencies more than once. I have yet to conclude, however, that those tendencies are a wholly bad thing. They might be in my guild situation as it stands now, because I think I am the only person in the whole guild who really ticks that way and is willing to take on the burden of leadership as an actual burden.

      I can see the value of having balance. I have also burned out before and I think I am on the cusp of take two of burning out. I have the sense of being at a crossroads – and I am going to have to choose my path soon. Whatever I end up doing, I think there will be a lot of the feeling of starting over. The good news is that an xpac is a good time for change.

  4. Elfindale says:

    If you weren’t a great leader then you wouldn’t bother with posts like this. You’d just do what you want to and not care about what others think. But you aren’t like that. You do care and it makes you try harder. One of the many, many reasons you are a great GM.

  5. Tam says:

    I am not a leadery person, and I have never really gone out of my way to find leadership roles so I don’t have much personal insight into this situation. I think it’s a fascinating post, though – and I think, as someone says above that you do write posts like these and think about the issues makes you about one hundred million percent better than the most GLs, team managers and so on I’ve encountered, in the game and in life. Lead by example is, I think, the fairest and most effective way to lead – otherwise you’re just a hypocrite and a dictator, I mean how can you ask other people to do what you yourself won’t do?

    The thing that I think … I don’t know … might raise problems for me on EITHER side is the “be an expert” philosophy, and perhaps it’s not even “be an expert” it’s the implied “be THE expert.” I think some general knowledge, yes, is vital but I suspect it might leave no space for your officers to, what was it you said, “find what it is they like to do within all the things in a guild that need to be done and have the freedom to pursue their strengths.”

    I guess what I’m thinking is that there are levels of relationships going on within a guild power structure: the relationship of the GL with his or herself, the relationship between the GL and the guild, and the relationship between the GL and the officers (who themselves, of course, have their own selection of relationships). It strikes me that, perhaps, in choosing to prioritise your relationship with yourself (it pleases you to be in control, you don’t like trusting people, you’d rather do you things your way than other’s way) you might be damaging your relationships with your officers. I hope this doesn’t sound critical, I’m exacty the same myself, but then I shy away from leadership positions because of it. Also I don’t know what your officers are like – they might be complete dickheads for all I know, and I have to admit I think calling you an elitist was … well … not overbrimming with right :)

    You admit yourself that you have made mistakes the past – I think perhaps your officers would feel that they had more ownership of the guild if they, too, had the opportunity to fuck things up. Equally I think in terms of building trust (and perhaps i’m cynical here) giving someone space to fuck up and then helping them fix it is, well, a winner. I’d much rather have a friend, or a leader, who trusted me enough to let me try things, and stuck by me if they went wrong, than somebody who, err, well didn’t. And you might say “well that means I’m prioritising the relationship with my officers over my relationship with the guild” but I reckon guilds are pretty resilient places, and a little bit of fucking up ultimately makes them stronger.

    As I say, I’m not one for leadership roles but something I’ve learned lately, and slightly painfully, is the notion of growing comfortable with imperfection. Again, perhaps I’m being cynical, but I think people are bad at locating and understanding their own strengths – let along playing to them, because it looks arrogant. When we run our raids, I always make it a point to put certain aspects of it, in fact most aspects of the process, in the hands of others, often with compliments. And if someone speaks up voluntarily, even if I know (or rather I think – yes, I can be a tosser :P) I can describe tacs better, or organise the run better, I make myself STFU. As long as it happens, we’re all learning something – including me, because although practice gives you polish, sometimes somebody launching into something ragged and untrained and new to it can show you something you’d never have spotted yourself.

    To take an example from real life, when I was an undergrad I was heavily involved to student welfare – and one of the organisations I dealt with was a student nightline (non-directional listening and support by students for students). Nightline was organised by 2 co-ordinators and a committee – rather like a guild and its officers. The co-ordinators were selcted by vote and held office for 2 terms. I saw many co-ords come and go – and I noticed two “cultures” within the organisation. You could have extremely competant, “expert at everything” co-ords, and things would operate smoothly, but the organisation would be slightly soul-less. People wouldn’t volunteer as much, the committee would have less to do and therefore wouldn’t do anything extra, the organisation would be less social and less closely knit. And then you’d get a second type of co-ord, just as competant in their own way, but slightly more vocal about weaknesses and not ashamed to display them or delegate- cue, a very vibrant culture, with everybody mucking in, taking responsibility, feeling they had a part to play in *creating* the organisation as well as working for it.

    A simplication, I know, but meaningful nonetheless. And I should probably add at this point, that I’m sure you’re an excellent GL, and this wasn’t meant to be a critical or arsey comment.

    But to end something slightly more frivolous. I sometimes think that leadership isn’t what people think it is – I don’t know if the UK Office made it over to the colonies…err…I mean America, since you have your own version but there’s a hilarious line uttered by Gareth about leadership:

    “I did learn a lot from David. I learnt from his mistakes. We’re very different people; he used humour where I use discipline. And I learnt that nobody respects him. And in a war situation, if you want your platoon to go over the top with you to certain death, it’s no good saying to them ‘Please come with me lads, I’ll tell you a joke.’ It’s a direct order ‘Come with me.’ And they’ll go ‘Yes, he’s got good leadership skills, let’s all go with him to our certain death’. Also, if you’re laughing in the jungle, you can give away your position to the enemy.”

    • Alas says:

      The thing that I think … I don’t know … might raise problems for me on EITHER side is the “be an expert” philosophy, and perhaps it’s not even “be an expert” it’s the implied “be THE expert.” I think some general knowledge, yes, is vital but I suspect it might leave no space for your officers to, what was it you said, “find what it is they like to do within all the things in a guild that need to be done and have the freedom to pursue their strengths.”

      This is one of my biggest concerns – that I have done this without intending to.

      At the same time, I feel I have offered many opportunities for my officers to step in and take charge of things that they find interesting to them. It’s getting to be a conversation we have on a quarterly basis, where I go, “Oh, hot damn, I am doing it all again! Hey guys! Help!” And they say, “We will help.” I say, “With which things?” They say, “Everything you could ever want!”

      On the last iteration of that I asked them to all commit to specific tasks, which have since fallen by the wayside. It’s the sort of thing where they all say they want to help lead raids and when I give them the opportunity they all suddenly have other things to do or just won’t do it at all. It’s extremely frustrating and I am not brilliant enough at leading to understand what I need to do to get them to have better follow-through. I have thanked and I have praised and I have offered my advice for those who are unsure how to go about it.

      That is what makes this so hard to talk about overall. I can be sure I am not doing everything right and I can admit I am making/have made mistakes. But I also have to point at the officers and say they are cocking things up, too. After all, they scarcely do the little that is asked of them and they show no initiative to take anything else on themselves and run with it. I think I would be delighted if I saw any movement in that direction. I would be even more delighted if I saw plans being made and they were more all-encompassing than pie-in-the-sky dreams about “Well, it would be nice to have two 10 man raiding teams.”

      You might think I am kidding, but I am not. That is what I get back from officers about “planning for Cataclysm”. No discussion is ever brought up about how, exactly, we’re going to have enough people to field two 10-man teams when we are doing very well to get one raid team going now.

      Maybe if I close my eyes and believe in magic strongly enough we’ll fly.

      You see how bitter and cynical I can be.

      So maybe the bottom line here is that it is me and it is my fault. But it is their’s just as much. How depressing.

      Dammit, Tam, I demand greater frivolity and less serious discussion from you in the future. I mean seriously what is this I don’t even. And on that note, that is a great line and I thank you for sharing it. I can’t bring myself to watch The Office (though if I had, I would likely watch the UK version because eeee accents! and I just like most of what I have seen from that side of the pond a great deal better than the crap we come up with over here). But now I have the feeling that I might have done some shouting in the jungle, if not actually laughing.

      • Tam says:

        Hmmmmm…in which case it sounds like need officers who aren’t worthless :P

        I can understand that if the GM is very active in all areas it could make you feel a bit intimidated but it sounds like they’re being complete wet blankets.

        The Office is … cringe-worthy but in such a well-observed way that it becomes almost a sort of wisdom.

        • Alas says:

          I read this and I keep seeing, “You’re not completely crazy. It is not all in your head.”

          What a relief!

  6. Saga says:

    I think this is a really interesting topic, and one you seem to have put quite some thought into.

    First of all, as some people have already said – remember that you’re your own worst critic. From what I’ve read on your site I get the impression of a guild leader who cares and always tries to improve – what better leader could one expect, really?

    I can – oddly enough – see myself in some of this from two points of views. I’m an officer, not a guild leader (though I was at one point in TBC, but for a different guild), and as such I take on a lot of responsibility. Anything I feel that others aren’t doing I try to do. I’m the one responsible for the website, and I would never give that to anyone else, cause they could never handle it as well *cough cough*

    I’m sure they could, I guess.. Maybe.. But I prefer to do it myself.

    I’m in a bit of an odd situation where I feel like I’m the one pushing forward – while the guild leader is standing stubbornly still – but even while standing still and not moving forward he refuses to give his officers the tools to do the work without him.

    An example.. we disagree on whether we should start recruiting for Cataclysm now or wait. (I want to start now – he doesn’t.) He finally sort of shrugged and said “do as you want”. Now, here’s what annoys me.. I can invite people to the guild, but he’s not bothered to give the officers the ability to promote/demote people – which means I can invite people, but not put them on the correct member rank.

    He doesn’t trust us. Which makes me think – why did he promote us then? What’s the point in having officers if they’re not allowed to do even the simplest things? If you don’t trust someone – you don’t make them an officer.

    And that’s where I guess I need to take a step back and realise that I do similar things (like I always sort of assume I can do things better.. or not better per say.. but.. my way..). But still.. I remember when I *was* the guild leader, I had officers that I fully trusted and they had access to pretty much everything.

    Now, it probably wouldn’t bother me so much if he was around more to do the stuff himself. But he’s not. I’m currently the only active officer, and it is really frustrating.

    But to stop this rambling, since I’m not even sure I’m on topic anymore.. I think you’re (as a leader) always walking a fine line of what is too much responsibility for you to take on alone and what should be delegated. But of course – you also have to have officers willing to take on some of the burden. (Out of all our officers I was the only one I actually know had something specific to do.)

    I think the fact that you’re considering these things at all make you a good leader. You want to do what’s best for your guild – and you put a lot of thought into it. I think that’s what counts.

    • Alas says:

      I do not envy you your conundrum, but I can understand it somewhat. When At was GM and I was an officer, I felt exactly the same way – that I was the only one trying to get anything done while everyone else pretty much rested on their laurels. And that damn GM stood in my way of everything, from kicking out people who didn’t fit to not having a Bee Pit rank to demote people to! Of course, I could at least promote and demote people, so it wasn’t like I had no authority. It’s very sad that your GM is so far removed from leading or letting anyone else lead. What’s the point?

      Anyhow, thank you for the kind words (as always) and for the added point of view. This solidifies things for me somewhat. I think I would know a go-getter officer if they came up with a problem and a plan and an attitude of “let me do this and I will.” Maybe I do not stand in the way as much as I think I do?

      What a confusing topic.

    • Saga says:

      Hmm, sorry for jumping in again, but reading your reply to Tam’s message made me think of a few things.

      I recognise the whole ordeal of people saying they will help with anything you want – and yet in the end it seems there is no help. It’s all empty words.

      Now, I’m taking this from work experience rather than WoW – but I suspect it’s rather similar. Some people – not because they are lazy, but simply because of how they work – have the best of intentions, but they simply will not (or cannot) pick something up and just do it. Now, whether this is because they’re afraid of stepping on someone’s toes or just them being cautious, I don’t know.

      What I would suggest – and this is something I’m considering for my own guild as well – is that you should sit down.. Make yourself a list of the things that you do to make the guild run properly. The things that need to be done.

      Then, split them up in roles. Keep the ones you want to keep for yourselves – the other ones, you list on your officer forum, with fairly simple work instructions if you will of.. this role entails this responsibility. I expect each and every one of you to pick the one you want to do. There will be no idle officers – you will all have an area of responsibility.

      By doing that you don’t leave the option to just say they’ll help – but putting it in a very concise list of.. these are the areas of work we have (positions if you will) and they all have to be done – now we decide who does what.

      If people are still not choosing.. then I can’t help but feel that perhaps they’re not officer material.

      If everyone has a clear task to do – I think that will make everyone happier. Like I said, I don’t necessarily think it’s that people don’t *want* to help – but rather that they don’t know how.

      But I’m droning on again, I don’t really mean to. I hope I’m making at least a little bit of sense *lol* I really do have a point, somewhere, I promise!

      • Alas says:

        /gasp! How dare you contribute more rational discussion? The. HORROR.

        >.>

        <.<

        I do get what you are saying, but I also feel that the last time we went through the song-and-dance of me saying help, I did give several specific things that needed to be done. Everyone replied with lists of things they would do. Then they did them for a few weeks, maybe. Then they went right back to… not.

        Some things do get done and fairly regularly, don't get me wrong. I don't want to paint all my officers with the same brush or not recognize that there are things that do get taken care of. It's just… there are so many more things that fall by the wayside and get ignored. Easy things, like cleaning out the guild bank of the crap that gets put in there and selling whatever can be sold to make a profit for guild repair funds. Not exciting jobs, no, but not all that onerous either until you find yourself doing all of them after other people said they would pitch in.

        Beyond that, I started a discussion recently about planning for Cata (as I mentioned before). The lack of good discussion that got generated from that is beyond disheartening. Which is to say that I don’t personally feel there was any good discussion, just some …panic about a proposed change and some wishful thinking.

        I’m just waiting for the whiplash from all of this also. Le sigh.

        • Saga says:

          Oh god, don’t get me started on Cataclysm planning.. I’m having big big big peeves about this with my own guild (and planning a post about it). It’s a very hmm.. unhappy subject for me hehe.. But so yeah, I can only imagine how that works for you.

          Hmm, that does sound like an issue (with things being picked up and then dropped again). This may seem silly (but I had to employ this at work because simply saying that X had to be done didn’t work – similar to in your guild), but what about being even more specific? I may be way wrong here.. or you already did this.. but if the goal is for Officer #1 to keep the guild bank cleared and uncluttered.. make the goal. Check the guild bank once a week and make sure it’s not cluttered. Because every.. say.. Monday.. you will check it and make sure it’s been done.

          Now here’s the crux.. if it HASN’T been done. Don’t do it yourself (a mistake I easily do myself). But because you know who was meant to do it, and they have a very specific time frame during which to do it.. you can tell them “hey, this isn’t done.. please fix it”

          I know this may not be a solution. And it sounds like “Officers for Dummies” – but really, sometimes you have to give very specific instructions, including when they’re to be done.. cause for whatever reason people flail when they don’t have a time frame during which to do something. (Heck, if I don’t set myself a specific day to do laundry I’d NEVER do any laundry! Even if I know I should..)

          But I’m just blabbering on as usual. (I’m good at that!) In the end, I’m sure you guys can get it sorted – maybe just an open discussion on how you think it’s working/not working.

          • Alas says:

            I discussed something similar with a co-GM last night. If I can’t get my expectations met after making them as clear as I can, then it will probably be time for more drastic measures.

            Someone needs to write “Officers for Dummies.” Seriously.

  7. Yngwe says:

    All I know is, I am pretty.