Here’s my guild, in FFXIV:



Some numerical statistics: Of the 135 members, 89 have been active within the last two weeks, and 63 have been online within the last 24 hours (stats taken on a Monday night). We’re also, this week, the 3rd highest ranked guild on the server.

I haven’t led a group this big since World of Warcraft, when I was co-leading LNR. I took the same stats for LNR at its peak at one point, while I was playing with various organizational addons. At its peak, LNR had about 85 active members, 65 of which had been on within two weeks of me checking, and usually about 50 of which had been on in the last 24 hours (though this varied heavily based on the day of the week). For a significant amount of time, LNR was competing for a slot in the 3rd-5th place for most advanced raiding group on the server.

FFXIV measures guild rank a bit differently. It’s not about how far you’ve progressed, it’s about how active you are. Almost any activity you do nets you guild credits (which can be spent on guildwide buffs), and ranking is by credits, weighted slightly. A guild where people only log in to hit the next progression raid is going to be ranked well below a guild that’s online, doing various things at all tiers of content. For us, our sub-level 20 players who are just puttering around doing quests are often contributing as much or more to the overall guild ranking than our top-level players who might just be sitting around chatting at the guild house.

At any given time, I can log in to about 10-15 people online. On weekends it’s rather more than that, and at severely off-hours (like 5AM Pacific), it’s less than that. It’s been weeks since I’ve been able to log in at a time when no other people are logged in, because in addition to having 135 members, we have a lot of international players.

the face of your guild leader.

the face of your guild leader.

As the guild leader, this is stressful for me. I’m ostensibly responsible for the happiness and well-being of more than a hundred people scattered across the globe, who want things to be organized and who want to be included in activities. As a point of comparison, the maximum group size for organized raid content is 8. For the most part, those 8-man raids are the things that people really want to be a part of.

Note the above stats: 63 people have been on within the last 24 hours. Managing to break down those members of the 63 people into discrete groups of 8, who have compatible schedules and who have the right gear/classes/etc to properly tackle the content in question is a nightmare.

In LNR, I handled this badly. What I did there was assume that nothing would get done without my involvement and spent a lot of time ensuring that things were working smoothly and that people were happy, or as happy as I could get them. I was studiously involved with layers upon layers of contingencies to make sure that everyone was getting a fair shot and that everything was as equitable as possible, down to spending hours poring over loot tables to ensure that things were distributed in a limited-but-reasonable way.

Now I take a different approach. After getting severely burned out and developing an interest in how to lead groups of people effectively without destroying myself, I’ve worked out a philosophy that’s served me fairly well thus far:

The highest aspiration of any leader should be to make themselves obsolete.

A well-run organization full of competent people will know what needs to be done and make those things happen. A leader’s role is to get people to that point, and then stop interfering. I make a few assumptions, that I hold to be true for all of my members until an individual proves otherwise to me:

  1. My group members are competent.
  2. My group members are trying to improve to a point where they are happy, and others around them are happy with them.
  3. My group members are capable of identifying obstacles in their way and will attempt to overcome them.
  4. My group members will come to me if they run into an obstacle they can’t overcome.

Pretty much everything I do as a guild leader (and as a leader in general) focuses on ensuring that the above four things are true, and if they aren’t, making changes until they are true. I only interfere when I need to course-correct, but otherwise I sit and watch to make sure the clock is ticking correctly without me manually moving the hand every second (because that’s exhausting and error-prone).

It’s a much healthier and much more effective means of leading a group than I had before, partly because it’s less busywork and more analysis on my part, and partly because I’m not micromanaging (and thus irritating) people. I lead one of the raid groups within the guild, and we’ve grown enough that a second one is spinning up. I have been keeping a close eye on it and making sure it has the resources it needs to form, but I’ve otherwise been hands-off. Another guild member has stepped up and is organizing and leading it, and other guild members are chipping in to help out. The clock is ticking nicely, and now that it’s rolling, I am not necessary to the process.

In Greysky Armada, I am largely obsolete, and the guild ticks along quite well. In there, at least, I think I’m succeeding as a leader.

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