I’m very pleased to say that Satorri, a well-known Death Knight poster on TankSpot has agreed to have his essay on leadership published here at pwnwear.com. His bio concludes this article. Enjoy the read!
by guest author Satorri
1.) Personal skills (each member in whatever they’re responsible for)
2.) Composition/Balance (all the necessary elements in the right proportion)
3.) Communication (to coordinate the actions of the pieces)
The nuances of communicating as a leader are complicated. The goal in this is that one person is paying attention to the big picture so they can orchestrate the smaller pieces. This does not mean telling the tank when to shield slam, but it could mean telling the tanks to swap targets, to expect a big burst of damage, or to expect a phase switch. Beyond just tactical direction, the leadership is also responsible for setting the pervading atmosphere and attitude of the team. In simplest terms, this atmosphere will determine the efficacy in raids and out of them, as well as the ability of your team to face and persevere through challenges.
If you were around during BC, you’ll remember how the end of t5 led to many teams falling apart. That is a simple indication of the limit of the team’s atmosphere and attitude. When they reached that level of time and patience required the team disintegrated unable to support that amount of investment.
So, it’s easy to make generalizations, but what specifically does this mean, where and how does the leadership need to use good communication and careful choices to ensure a strong team?
Read more of Satorri’s guest post on leadership and communication
As a team, you succeed when people do what is needed of them, when it is needed, and trust the other required actions to other people. When one person fails to trust their teammate, they try to do both jobs and rarely succeed at doing both, usually mess up the other person’s ability to do so, and generally just make a mess.
For example, Healer A is assigned to the tank while Healer B is assigned to healing the group. Healer A sees people take damage in the group and rather than trusting Healer B to do their job, he tries to heal up the raid. The interrupt in tank heals allows the tank to get crushed before Healer A can switch back and pick him up, while Healer B’s heals overheal because Healer A was trying to do the same thing.
How does the leadership come into play here? Three main places come to mind:
the leadership (maybe a single person, maybe role-leads) sets out who is responsible for tanking what, healers are assigned to different needs, and DPS are told the desired kill order, sometimes including dps type splits (i.e. caster dps on X, melee dps on Y). Out of raids this comes into play in delegating important duties for the team.
Assignments may not always be the best fit, or they may be asking too much, but once the action starts it is no longer the time to question assignments, it is now time to follow your directions. Until the crunch time starts though, it is ok to question assignments, provided it is done through the appropriate channels, in the appropriate tone.
it is helpful to use language that expresses your trust in your raiders, if you trust them others will be more inclined to do so. “Alright, Billy is going to be a champion and heal the tank solo, let us know if you need help.” On the other end of the spectrum, if you don’t trust your raid team (or accidentally suggest that in your language), the team is both less likely to trust each other, and they may have trouble trusting you.
Out of raids, entrusting tasks to people is a sign of confidence in their abilities and allows them to feel more invested in the team, like it’s not just a work place where they do a chore, get paid, and go home, but a product they helped create and can take pride in.
at the right time, through the right channels, players should be encouraged to give feedback on how things worked. During the raid, or during the pull is likely not the right time, but after the raid, on the team forums, or through whispered conversations or role specific channels it is smart to listen to the experiences of your team and adjust accordingly.
For example, after the attempt, Billy whispers the heal lead that the healing was pretty manageable except for the soft-enrage, so the heal lead knows that the next set of assignments should incorporate a second healer having hots ready or switching over for just that portion. Feedback is also helpful in terms of policies and the demeanor of the leadership themselves. Your team is a mirror in which you can see how you portray yourself.
It is the combination of many working elements doing their part that make a whole organism capable of something much more challenging.
2.) Executive Decisions
The game (and the world) are full of decisions. Many of them are not earth-shattering, and many of them are not even a right-or-wrong scenario. There are simply many situations where a group of people need someone to make the choice so they act decisively as a group. As the leadership, this falls to you. In terms of raids this could be a small detail as “ok, break’s done, let’s move on to the next trash,” or larger as, “we’ve been wiping on this boss for a couple hours, let’s give this other boss some attention and come back to this later.”
Out of raids this encompasses a great many choices, but some are very important such as setting raid times, attendance policies, and deciding who gets to raid and why. As leadership it falls to you to make these decisions, and many of them are not easy, but it is important to make informed, considered decisions, and to learn from the outcome of them.
If your decisions are regularly to the detriment of the team, the team may choose not to follow you anymore, so tread carefully, and share your reasoning so they can appreciate where you come from and why you choose what you do.
You may be 10 or 25 (or 40) people with individual thoughts, ideas, strategies, and goals, but as a part of a team you are strongest when you are united in a single purpose. Each person carries out their task to accomplish the greater goal. As a leader you can set this very tone to encourage more magnanimous thinking among the team members.
If the leadership sets the tone and the team falls in line, the power of being more team-minded and less selfish makes looting, sacrificial buffing (scorpid sting means less damage from the hunter but may be better for tank survival, less healing required and an easier fight), and general operations far more positive and healthy.
Leadership that focuses on the value of loot and individual performance, without due attention to the good of the team, is far more likely to find drama, arguments, and other negative interactions that make the team a trial instead of a joy. Leadership that stresses nothing, be warned.
If the people in charge of organization do not set a tone, they leave it open to the people in the raid to decide what the attitude and interaction will be like, for better or for worse.
Members who care about their team and their teammates will be loyal, committed, have more reason to do what is asked of them, and have a degree of buffer against potential strife. Think about it from this angle to understand that last point: If your best friend of 15 years accidentally knocks you in the head with a shelf he’s moving, you rub your head, laugh it off, and forgive him in a moment. If a random stranger or new acquaintance does it, you may not be so quickly forgiving and may harbor personal resentment or suspicion.
The focus of this article is on the value of communication for a leader, and I specifically talk about raid leadership in many of my examples. That said there are two important points that I think need emphasizing:
1.) Whether or not you are an officer, raid leader, or are actually appointed to a position of authority in your team, as a member of the team you can be a constructive force, a guiding influence on your team nonetheless.
A positive attitude, and a willingness to exemplify everything the team and it’s “official” leaders stand for can be a very helpful role on the team, and you can personally have a hand in making it the kind of environment you want to play in. In a way that makes you a leader, and is a form of taking responsibility yourself. Often times it is these people who are eventually elected or selected to become formal leaders.
2.) Leaders are nothing without loyal followers. Leaders may call the shots, make the big decisions, and settle the disputes at the end of the day, but if no one follows their directions they are not leaders at all. As a leader, be conscious of your followers, be attentive to the fact that they are living, breathing people with needs, hopes, and desires.
As a leader, know when you need to follow the needs and wants of your team, and when you need to make a decision that may not make your team happy but will eventually be in their best interest. If you are not a leader in your team, learn what it means to be a follower.
It is always important to have ideas and opinions, and it is helpful for the leadership that you voice them in the appropriate fashion, but what makes the team strong at the end of the day is that you support your leaders whether or not you like the specific choice. It is better for the team to act as a whole, for win or for loss, than it is for you to do what you think is the right choice at the expense of everyone else’s actions and plans.
About my guest Satorri
Who are you Satorri?
My passion for figuring out how things work has lent itself wonderfully to game mechanics, and I am a furious theorycrafter, with a twist you only get from an engineer.
Read more about Satorri, and find who is the person behind the DK avatar.