Raid leadership

I found this little article and thought it was exactly how I feel and had to link it 😀

Effective Raid Leadership: Emotional Intelligence



October 4, 2010Posted in: Effective Raid Leadership, Guild Leadership, World of Warcraft

One of the things that I often enjoy doing is analyzing the benefits that I’m getting personally out of being a guild leader. Contrary to a lot of guilds, Imperative doesn’t use “officer override” or “GM privilege.” To be completely honest, it’s more of a job than anything. Recruitment in the past has taken hours on end and the result? A marginal personal gain. Being in a position where you have to critically analyze the performance of your friends isn’t easy. It can be very tough at times. I think the major reason that I put myself in leadership positions is that I like to take charge. If something isn’t being done how I like it, I enjoy having the authority to change it.

But what have I really personally gained out of guild leadership? Emotional intelligence. It’s a concept I’ve been studying the past two weeks in my Organizational Behavior class at Northwestern. The idea itself is pretty complex, but the results aren’t really that shocking: people with higher emotional intelligence are generally more successful. They’re usually perceived as more talented, more effective, and more motivated than less emotionally intelligent counterparts. Shockingly enough, most studies have found that talent is largely irrelevant (past competency) in terms of who gets the promotion – it’s your people skills that advance your career, not your job skills.

One of the most interesting revelations about this study is the realization that your abilities as a raid leader are not dependent on your abilities as a raider. Again, people who advance their career have (on average) more people skills and fewer technical or “job” skills. By extension, successful raid leaders have far more people skills and fewer execution or “raider” skills. Obviously, the same caveat applies in both areas: you still need to be competent for the content you’re doing. If you can’t dodge four death rays on heroic Halion, your raid leadership isn’t really going to matter much. For me personally, this is a big motivator – I don’t have to be the “best warlock in the world” to be a good raid leader (though I’ll still try). For average Joe out there, this means that you don’t need to be topping the DPS meters in order to lead a raid effectively.

So what is emotional intelligence? There are four main components to emotional intelligence: self-awareness (being aware of your emotions), self-management (regulating your emotions), social awareness (detecting the emotions of others), and relationship management (influencing the emotions of others). You can measure emotional intelligence through tests (though the tests aren’t that great). The best measure can more be obtained through self-examination. Do your emotions get out of control? How good are you at manipulation? Can you empathize with other people? All of these are entered into this category of “emotional intelligence.”

So how do raid leaders benefit from having higher emotional intelligence?

Self-awareness – Being able to identify your own emotions can be very critical in a high stress raid environment. Raid leadership and guild leadership involve a lot of real-time decisions, and thus being aware of your current emotions and moods can be critical to your overall decision making process. If you know that you’re angry at someone, you can probably bet that it’s not the best time to initiate a vote for a gremove. Self-awareness is also a big part in tapping into part 2, as you can’t manage your emotions if you aren’t aware of them…

Self-management – As a leader, you’re setting both the pace and tone among your members. Being able to regulate your emotions is critical to raid management. If you’re a leader that becomes extremely angry really fast, you’re much less likely to have a happy raid and successful guild. I vividly remember one week when we were trying to repeat heroic Lich King and I was wiping the raid by failing to call out stuns correctly – I had to take a step back to calm myself down from my own disappointment. Raid leaders who can find ways to regulate their own frustrations, joys, and embarrassments are much more likely to stay composed and keep the raid moving.

Understanding emotions – This one is particularly tricky in a raid environment, but is likely to show a correlation among raid leaders. Raid leaders who can detect emotional subtleties in voices are more likely to be successful. Some raid leaders simply can’t detect when the raid is miserable, or when people aren’t happy. They think “keep going” is a viable option. One of the things I look for when a major mistake is made is a sense of embarrassment – it shows you’re aware of the error and care about it. Other things to detect are when people are stressed, angry, tired, bored, etc. In each case, it’s important to creating a successful raid environment rather than just a successful raid.

Relationship management – Have you ever heard someone say “the best raid leaders can’t have emotional connections with their raiders?” There’s some truth to that, but there’s significantly more falsehoods. The rationale is that raid leaders need to be objective, and personal bias can sometimes get in the way of objectivity. But the truth of the matter is that every raid leader has a relationship with every raider. Even if your relationship is similar to “sergeant / solider” in which you don’t discuss any personal details at all, you still have a relationship. Each relationship is also different – your relationship with a person is dependent on who that person is. The key take away here is that your ability to persuade a person is dependent upon your relationship with that person. The simple fact is that you can’t motivate or persuade everyone with some magic trick – everyone is motivated by different things. The words you chose to motivate an individual raider to do something will largely depend on who that raider is and what they’re motivated by. If you need them to pass on a piece of gear, you have a lot of things you can say to achieve that, and which you chose depends on what they care about.

The best part for current raid leaders is that the skills are learnable, and you shouldn’t give up on them. One of the best bits of advice I can give is to encourage people to tell you how they’re feeling and how you’re feeling. Having Faux speak up and say “this is miserable” or “you’re being ridiculous” is very significant for me personally. When people start telling you how they’re feeling or how you’re making them feel, you should listen. Most raid leaders will respond with some blanket “I don’t care how you feel,” and at that point, you know they’re exhibiting bad emotional intelligence. Another trick that’s worked for me was sticky notes. I covered the bottom of my monitor with sticky notes: “Do not yell” and “Pay attention to the mood.” Putting some sort of constant reminder for emotional awareness is extremely helpful. A fellow raid leader said that they used a Ventrilo modification which alerts you every time your decibel level exceeds a certain point. Anything you can do to get feedback and to tone your emotional control and execution will dramatically improve the performance of your raid.

Now am I perfect? Certainly not. In fact, I’m probably one of the most borderline raid leaders out there. However, I’ve come a long way since yelling at everyone to whisper me “Yes Sir” on Archimonde. A lot of that was just maturity – I started leading raids when I was 17 in Karazhan, and now I’m nearly done with college. I’ve still gone off on people quite a bit (Keytar and Deathrix probably got it hardest), but I’ve stuck to two fundamental goals: don’t degrade people as people and don’t discriminate calling out mistakes. I’ve found my “support group” that gives me emotional feedback during raids, and I use them as best I can to keep things moving forward.

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