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Keeping People Interested
Activity in the community is cyclical. Not on a macro scale, but on a micro one. Each individual will go through phases of being interested and active in the community, to suddenly not really caring at all, then back to being interested again. Give it some time, and you will notice it in others. Give it some more time, and you will notice it in yourself.
As a leader in this community, part of your job is to keep people interested and active — a daunting task considering our natural tendency to stop caring after a while. There are things you can do to stave off the apathy for a while though. Primarily, you just need to give people a reason to stick around. We’re here to have fun, so ensure that your section is a fun place to be.
Every month, we hear about people who leave the community to go somewhere else. The typical response to that goes something like “I guess they thought the grass was greener on the other side, but they’re gonna be disappointed.” Be that as it may, their decision to leave SSC probably had something to do with our leadership as a whole. If your members are led to believe that the grass is greener on the other side, perhaps you need to water your lawn more often.
This is a gaming community. As a leader, you need to keep the atmosphere light and fun. People should look forward to coming home and turning on their gaming system if only to help alleviate the stress of working all day. Keep this in mind every time you interact with another member.
How to Speak to People
Unfortunately, this isn’t a silly movie where we can ride around on a horse shouting in a Scottish accent, “They may take our lives, but they may never take our freedom!” We’re not leaders in a typical sense – this is a video game. However, you are still expected to earn the respect of your fellow clan members. There are right ways and wrong ways to speak to people. You need to practice the former and refrain from the latter.
More importantly, you need to be able to speak to your mates in a way that lets them know that you respect them just as much as they respect you. Also, keep in mind that we lead by example. If things in the clan aren’t going right, you can’t just sit there and “berate the troops” until things get done.
The more effective and more reliable solution is to show your members how to achieve the desired goal, and then explain to them how to repeat your success. For instance, if your team is losing a match, you cannot rage at fellow members for lack of teamwork. Instead, take a small group and coordinate them to work as a team. When they start winning multiple games in a row, the entire clan will follow suit.
Keeping Everyone Included
This goes hand-in-hand with “keeping people interested,” but it’s a different concept. A leader does not play favorites. You cannot spend all of your time gaming with a select handful of members and ignore everyone else in your section. You need to spread the love around and give each member a little bit of face time. They need to feel included in section activities and events, even if their schedule does not allow it.
Make an effort to game with people that you do not play with very often. If they work third shift and are only available in the mornings, then work out a time in your schedule to spend some time with them in the morning. Or perhaps see if any of the other leaders can step up and make time in their schedules. A member who feels like their schedule stops them from partaking in section activities will always leave the community. Always.
Running Section Meetings
The great thing about section meetings is that every leader does it slightly differently. Some leaders will talk about what you need to do to get better on certain maps and game types. Then talk about upcoming game releases, just to keep you all informed of what was going on outside of the game. Following-up with setting section policies and asked everyone in the section if they had an issue they wanted to bring up.
Some leaders will write down a long list of things they want to cover in the meeting, and then read off that list word for word, not stopping until the very end and then answering questions on what they said. Other leaders will write down key concepts and jump from one to the other, stopping periodically to answer questions. However you want to do it is your prerogative, but you do need to put some time into preparation.
The most important concept of the section meeting is to talk about the things that your section needs to hear. If there have been issues with people’s attitudes, talk about “improving the way we speak to each other during games or muting our microphones when we can’t control ourselves.” Sections have problems of all shapes and sizes. You need to address them as soon as you become aware of them.
The second most important concept of the section meeting is to give your section members a chance to vocalize their feelings on the status of the section. If they feel that something is wrong, you and everyone else in the meeting should hear about it and talk things over. The members of your section, regardless of rank, should feel like they have a voice and that people are listening to them. The meeting is the perfect opportunity for that. Unfortunately, trying to get people to speak up from time to time is like trying to get water from a rock, but keep trying, and eventually, they’ll cave in.
The Importance of Growth
Ever wonder why I’m constantly reminding people to recruit? In order to keep the community afloat, you kinda have to. The harsh truth of video game clans is that people tend to get bored with it and move on after a while, or some dispute will occur between a few idiots and people will leave, or someone’s gaming console will get broken, or their internet will go out, or something else will come up. Point is, you are going to lose members over time.
The key is to gain more members than you lose over time. So, if you lose 3 active members over the course of 3 months, you should recruit at least 4 to 5 active members during that time. Simply maintaining the status quo isn’t enough. Your section needs to expand over time. Gradually perhaps, but you can’t sit in one spot and not go anywhere. People will lose interest.
Some of our gamers simply do not want to sit in the same rank for a long period of time. They need to fulfill new roles and take on new tasks within the community. Basically, they want to get promoted. For them, staying at the same rank for too long gets boring. Unfortunately, you can only promote new Lieutenants and new Leaders when you have enough Members to support that kind of infrastructure. Traditionally, you should have one Leader for every 5 members in your section.
If we were allowed to promote people without actively recruiting new members, we’d end up having 20 Leaders, 30 Lieutenants, and maybe a handful of Members. Recruiting is essential to promotions, and promotions are essential to keeping people interested in the section. This is why sections must grow and split into new sections. “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”
The Primary Qualities of a Leader
The 8 Major Characteristics of Being a Leader:
1) Trust and respect
It is important to generate trust and respect among your members. You don’t need to be liked on a personal level, but you do need to be respected. This is not about being feared, but it’s not about being liked either. The primary point is to be consistent with all members. You cannot avoid kicking out a member for violating the rules just because that person is your friend. You will lose the respect of the other members.
You need to be able to communicate and treat people with respect. There are many methods of communication available to you as an leader, and you should use more than one to get the message to your members.
A good leader has got to be enthusiastic. You cannot afford to constantly speak in monotone. Good leaders have the character trait of enthusiasm, passion, and dedication. People will respond to these things over time.
If you’re going to make a mistake, make a bold mistake! Rock-solid confidence is a necessity, but do not confuse this with arrogance. As a leader, you need to combine confidence with humility. It is important that you “don’t let them see you sweat.”
5) A Cool Head
At all times and with all people, you need to have a calm, collected manner. As a person who other members look up to, you do not have the luxury of “losing it”.
6) Focus on Key Elements
A good leader is able to think analytically. He or she can break down the elements of what they need to do to reach the desired goal and deal with each element one by one.
7) Motivation and Innovation
You need to constantly look for ways to improve to get better results, even when things are going well. If your section has reached the goal that you set for them, you need to quickly set a new one that is more challenging than the last.
8) Improve your own skills
A good leader is constantly trying to improve his or her own skills. There is no ceiling or plateau that you can get comfortable with because you can always be better. Look for ways to improve yourself to a higher level than what you’re currently at.
Combine Realism and Idealism
“Realists” are people who are acutely aware of the world and how it works. They have a strong understanding of what is and isn’t possible and make their decisions based on what they believe they can achieve.
“Idealists,” on the other hand, let their imagination run wild and strive to achieve the impossible. An idealist is always thinking that “things would be better if…”
Many people believe that realism and idealism are polar opposites, and are therefore mutually exclusive. This is why there have been very few great leaders throughout history. A truly great leader learns how to combine realism and idealism in their decisions, bridging the gap between knowledge and creativity.
Knowing the ways of the world and how people think, and then allowing your imagination to build from that, will help you create a truly unique and enjoyable gaming environment. The key is to never get too comfortable with the way things are.
The Danger of Surrounding Yourself with “Yes-Men”
You are the leader of the section, but you are also only one person. You know more about SSC than most of the other members of your section, but you can only view the world from one perspective. Basically, you don’t always know what your section members think or how they feel about something. Before setting a new policy, you should consult with the other leaders for advice.
Here’s the tricky part. Your Lieutenants should be upstanding members of the community, but they should also come from different walks of life. Do not grant promotions to only the people that agree with you. You need to surround yourself with people who will disagree with you during deliberations, but support your decisions after you’ve made them. If your Lieutenants agree with everything you say, you’ve done a horrible job of structuring your section, and some of your members will be left behind because no one was willing to voice their opinions at the meetings.
Accepting Different Points of View
On the flip-side of that coin is being able to accept criticism and opposing ideas. No one person has a monopoly on wisdom or intelligence.
General George Washington kept a large group of lesser generals and colonels with him at all times. He often accepted their counsel on strategic matters, even if he was ardently opposed to it. The story of Adolf Hitler is somewhat different though. Nazi Germany could have won World War II if Hitler had not made a series of grave mistakes and strategic errors — the same mistakes that all of his Generals warned against. Hitler refused to accept their ideas, and he lost a war that he should have won. Washington accepted the criticism and opposing ideas of his advisors, and he won a war that he should have lost.
The situation is a bit different for a leader in this community, seeing as how all of our bullets and bombs are digital, but it’s the same concept. You need to be open to new ideas, especially if they go against yours. This doesn’t mean you should blindly agree with everyone else either. Use your head and try to have some foresight. See how your decisions will affect the section in the long run, and then decide what is best for everyone.
Being the Leader Your Section Deserves
We all have time requirements outside of the video game. Activity and inactivity are more cyclical than the economy, but once you become a leader you take on the responsibility of being active for your section. If you cannot be as active as your section needs you to be, you should take it upon yourself to step down and allow a new leader to take over.
Maintain the Image
The last concept I want to teach you is that being a leader is not a “sometimes” kind of thing. Being a leader is an “ALL the time” kind of thing. You must maintain the image of leadership at all times, and with all people. If you slip up for even a moment or let any of your members see behind the veil that you are not the leader you have built yourself up to be, they will lose confidence in you and leave in droves.
Of course, no one is perfect. Behind the veil of leadership lies a mistake-prone human being just like anyone else, but you must strengthen your resolve and remember to “put on that mask before you leave the house.” This is hugely important and I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are going to display qualities of leadership, then you must ALWAYS do so.
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