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.
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.