Leading when You’re Not
My wife is now an official member of a Roller Derby team. She passed all the rules and skills tests and now gets to meet and vote with the rest of the derbiers. She’s been to meetings in the past, but has had little to say about them; as a “fresh meat,” she had no voting privileges. After her most recent meeting, though, she came home flustered. She was fine with the decisions being made, but process of the meeting had irritated her; it had been chaotic, with people talking long-windedly about irrelevant nonsense and not actually getting the meeting done.
So my wife did what she felt she had to, and took over running the meeting. She knows a lot of about process from running the model UN and model Illinois government clubs and classes at her university. She created order out of chaos and facilitated getting the meeting done. She was irritated she had to do it, but she was glad that it had sped things up.
As a good husband (or at least someone who strives to be one), I didn’t know how to proceed. You see, dear reader, I can tell she’s walking into a terrible trap. It’s the same trap I’ve walked into repeatedly, and I want to protect her from that. It’s a trap that many of us are familiar with. When good, intelligent, responsible people see an organization tilting dangerously to one side, we feel that if no one else is going to right the ship, someone has to, so we must. And without fail, it begins to sap the life and enjoyment out of the things we do.
I’ve done it to every raid organization I’ve been in. I’ve seen various problems in the raids, and I’ve slowly begun to address those problems – either by talking to officers or volunteering to raid lead – which has led me to stop having fun. You simply cannot change the established culture of an old organization. Cannot.
In my first guild, the defunct Inner Sanctum, there was a problem of officers who were assholes who didn’t pull any weight. I saw to it (poorly, in hindsight), and the guild split. Bad blood still exists to this day.
In my second guild, the raiding was extremely poorly run, so when a spot opened, I volunteered to take over, and enabled the guild to finish raids it couldn’t have dreamed of finishing before. But the culture of accepting any trash raider that signed up never changed, and without the power to change that myself, I got more and more frustrated by no-shows, greedy jerks, and perpetually tardy players. The frustration more than overwrote the fun, and I eventually quit.
In my third guild, the raid group was quite solid and I was happy with how things were done. We were so solid that we grew larger, and eventually I got to run a few of my own raids. I ran them similarly to the others, but with a few small changes – such as continuing pulling while loot was distributed. When some of those “B team” raiders got into the “A team” raids, they continued that process, which angered the guild/raid leader. My buddy was among them, and he was blacklisted. That eventually led me to quit. Admittedly, this is the weakest of the examples because really I didn’t do much wrong, but still; my different leadership led to problems.
In my most recent guild, another terribly run organization, I took over more and more responsibility until it started to look at lot like my second guild. I took a break at Christmas, and haven’t returned to end-game stuff since.
Why can’t I learn my lesson? Why must I constantly insinuate myself in the bailing out of sinking ships, as was the case in three of these guilds?
I don’t know, but I do know I don’t want my wife to do the same. I carefully breached the subject to her, and I think she understood. But, dear reader, she’s like me. Nothing will change, nor can it. We’re teachers, for god’s sake. Ignorance and mismanagement are our enemy, and it’s hard not to bring that to every aspect of what we do.
Am I happy my past WoW experiences have basically been ruined because I think the people leading those raids were being inefficient – that I could – to put it plainly – do better? Of course not. I don’t do things like that at work, but I’ve been blessed in my career in two ways. First, I’ve had pretty good immediate supervisors everywhere I’ve worked, old hands who knew the game and largely ignored the bureaucratic bullshit. Two, as a teacher, I can just close the door and do my own thing. Still, it’s not that I don’t know how to keep my head down, it’s that I seem incapable of doing so in a gaming situation.
It may be the case that I don’t think that my fun should be mismanaged by others. I can accept that when I’m at work, if something unpopular happens, well, suck it up; I’m getting a paycheck. In a game, the same’s not true; I’m voluntarily participating, and I don’t want to be a jerk and leave people in the lurch, so I’d rather work to improve the environment. But it never works out that way, though my attitude still persists.
What about you, dear reader? How do you deal with mismanaged situations? Have you dealt with bad guilds, or are you one of the lucky ones?
Stubborn (and foolish)