Gaming Community Support Series Part 5: Being A Leader
(The way you run your community, controlling yourself and inspiring people)
Great leadership is one of the hardest things in life. Why? Because it means having power that you don’t exploit. You need to figure out the right way to ask someone to do something. Have a discussion instead of an argument. Work as a team to solve something, instead of lots of people doing their own things. In other words, it can be difficult, but also very rewarding!
Learn From Your Mistakes
One thing I know for sure, is that I’ve learned to lead communities and teams by making mistakes. That’s why I’ve left this section till last. I’ll go through my ups and downs of being a leader in gaming communities, using what I’ve learnt from my past experiences. I’m far from a perfect leader, but I can help point you in the right direction…
Control, and “I” vs “We”
One of the most difficult things I had to learn to overcome as a leader, was to treat my team as a team, not just tools at your disposal. When you’ve built something from nothing, you feel very attached to it and you don’t want that sense of control to go away. But if you don’t trust your team to get things done and speak on behalf of your team as a whole, you’ll come to a grinding halt very quickly.
As one individual you simply can’t manage all the things that need to get done. Not only that, but by freeing yourself up to focus on the bigger things, you’ll ease your stress levels and bring more opportunity to your community.
Something that has helped me overcome this is focusing constantly on using ‘we’ instead of ‘I/ when talking about activities, projects, and tasks. In doing so it makes everyone feel an equal part of the community team, and puts you in the mindset of sharing responsibility. Rather than feeling like they’re fighting for your dream, your members will begin to feel like the community is a collection of everyone’s best efforts, and they’ll be more driven to help it succeed!
This leads really well into my next point — delegation. We touched on it a bit above, but I’ll just quickly reiterate: share tasks and responsibilities with your admins. It’ll free you up for more important and challenging tasks, while making admins feel invested in the group because they’re truly contributing to it.
At the end of the day you’ll probably find it hard working with volunteers that don’t have the same passion as you. The trick there is to give each admin a small task to do and slowly build them up to bigger tasks. Also, take note of SUPER IMPORTANT tasks that HAVE to get done. Give them to someone you trust but always check in on them, and set a cut off date where, if it isn’t done, you can take it off them and make sure it gets done. Sometimes life gets in the way, so it’s always worth having a back up plan!
It’s hard to say this but, don’t get carried away with your community. You may think by committing to it you’re striking two birds with one stone, getting job experience while building a social life. In reality though you may be digging yourself into a deep hole.
Separating work from your social life is a challenge a lot of people face. Without a balance, tension and stress levels easily rise and affect your overall performance. Make sure you are giving yourself time to focus on the important things in your life, and are not being all consumed by what you’ve created. Not only could doing so stress you out, it can blind you to the problems your community is facing. A good tip is to treat your community like a relationship.
Don’t take sides
When planning and building a community, your team may have many visions for the direction of the group. It’s important to not let those different visions clash, but more importantly if they do, you should try and remain impartial. Instead of taking sides, gather members from each side and lay out the clear positives and negatives of each. Then lay those points alongside the community vision and mission we created at the beginning of this series. Calmly compare and contrast their arguments to the reason your community exists, and you should be able to come to a mutual decision.
Member engagement and involvement
As the leader of this community you’ve built, you need to embody the values this community aims to instil in its members. The easiest way to establish and build on this is to constantly interact with the members that are the most engaged and involved. As a leader you need to be encouraging of all involvement, especially to those who also embody what the community is supposed to represent. Start small, just like with your admin team, by giving them little things to do. Then build them up to where they can act as a community representative.
You now have the basic tools and know how to build a gaming community and lead it on the way to greatness! There is still MUCH to learn beyond this but as long as you keep going, no matter what speed bumps you may hit, and learn from those bumps, there’ll be no stopping you :).
If you have any questions about building and maintaining gaming communities, don’t hesitate to drop me a message via email@example.com and I’d be glad to answer any questions you may have :).
Theo Martin // Community Manager