Guildleader chores - How the Dog Whisperer helped me manage a guild

I made an error of judgement the other day, but it was probably a good mistake.

I make no secret of the fact that some of my guildies irk me. They are like naughty children, yet I constantly give them second chances because even though on the outside they act like brats, inside they have done small things that show that they're not all bad, that there is a chance that they can be good. I just really want to give people the chances to be the better person, and if they're constantly punished for their disgressions when they want to try to be better then you'll never get the best out of them.  Most people don't understand me though, and think "Navi's just a gullible softie, all you have to do is make up some sob story and you can be let back into the guild."

I was trying to give an example of why I do things the way I do, and the best example I can think of is the mistreated dog. When an animal is mistreated they are angry, aggressive and dangerous and people just think they should put it down as they are a menace. But, had that dog had a happy family upbringing, would it be a better dog? Are they all born bad? And if given the opportunity to be loved, earn trust and be forgiven, would I get an amazing loyal and loving animal as a forever companion?

Some antisocial people are products of a traumatic past. The world hurt them, now they want to hurt it back. Or they don't want to be hurt again. But inside, I believe everyone yearns for someone to care, someone to forgive their mistakes, somewhere where they can feel safe. And I would like someone to treat me like that too.

It is so much easier to just wash your hands of the problem, and it becomes someone else's problem. Who needs the stress, right?

Well... unfortunately for everyone else, I like trying to fix things to make them better. Which is why some people may think that the guild is like my own personal playground, or social experiment. Because what I do means everyone else in the guild has to suffer the consequences too.

So for example, I had 2 people return who tried the mythic thing and it didn't work out. I said that they were welcome back if it didn't work out, because I appreciate that they're telling me the truth and I respect their choice (since the guild goals are clear so there are no misunderstandings). People think I'm silly and they may be just using the guild as a stepping stone to somewhere else, but I don't believe that for at least one of them. After all, if you are meant for bigger and better things, who am I to stop you?

The guild is made for those who want somewhere to have a home, somewhere with stability, with decent people in it, who behave in a decent manner. Why would anyone think I would be angry if people left because we don't fulfil their needs?

The only thing that I find truly irritating is people who are afraid to tell me the truth. I get really pissy when people leave the guild and don't tell me why, but I am totally fine with people leaving and telling me they're going to go play with friends, do mythic, or have family issues, or the guild doesn't suit them. 

The last time someone left the guild without saying anything and then asked to return, I said "You don't seem very happy here. Why would you want to come back? I think you should go and find another guild and see if you like it there and maybe you'll be happy. I don't want you to be here if you're unhappy, so after a year, if you find that look back and think that Frostwolves was what you were looking for, come speak to me." I thought the same thing when it happened just the other day. The person didn't seem happy here, and it's best that they went somewhere they were happy.

But for all my attempts at being good and kind, it doesn't mean I don't get angry. I was angry that they didn't respect my wishes and tell me they were leaving. I don't even know WHY I was angry. Was it because I didn't like people being disrespectful to me? I do get cranky about disrespect (since I have such an inflated opinion of myself!) when I do my best to be understanding and forgiving. But there are rules, boundaries, and discipline for those who step outside the line. Kindness cannot work without clear boundaries. But, the usual story is they are angry at me about something, so I'll just have to assume that's the reason.

Cesar, the Dog Whisperer has heaps of tips about how to train dogs. These are what he says about how to be the pack leader.

1. Calm and Assertive

Being nervous or jittery does not inspire confidence or respect. Think of a mother dog picking up a puppy by the scruff of its neck when it strays far from the den. Calmly keep doing it and they'll figure out they're not supposed to do that. Same with people. Yelling at them may inspire fear or dislike, and not being assertive means that you don't stick to your guns. 

2. Setting Boundaries

For dogs, territory ownership is important and this is communicated with body signals. But in the guild, the boundaries are the rules around which the guild operates, and which are enforced. 

3. Right Timing

Making dogs wait asserts authority - it's about obedience. I am a bit strict about time wasting in raids and starting and finishing on time, so people are now used to the concept of stepping out rather than making people wait. And being consistent about it. Unfortunately when it's a tank that can be an issue...

4. Pack Leadership

Dogs are social pack animals with a leader and followers.  In the wild, most dogs are followers, but if they don't have a leader to follow, a dog or dogs will attempt to take control of the situation. The lack of strong leadership leaves the dogs in an unbalanced mental state, and they will do whatever they have to do to fulfill their needs. In nature, this can create chaos in a pack.

Guilds are the same. If you don't have a clear leader, and everyone is making decisions, nobody knows who is in charge or whom to listen to. If a leader is apathetic or uninvolved, people start organising their own things and that can create fractures within a group and it will degenerate into anarchy as everyone is now feeling like the alpha and refusing to back down.

Another way that we can fail to provide leadership is by the mistaken idea that any kind of discipline is 'mean' to the dog. Instead, we have a tendency to give our dogs nothing but affection, perhaps thinking that 'love will find a way.' An overabundance of affection creates an imbalance in the dog, who is seeking direction and protection from his Pack Leader.

So, whilst I may not pat and lavish affection on my guildies, I do make an effort to speak to each one, if I see them online. But, I also speak to them immediately when there is an issue with their behaviour, language or any other thing that requires an intervention.

Dogs want and need their owners to be a pack leader. And though they don't know it, most people who join a guild need that too.

5. Know Your Pack

Knowing your pack, and what fulfils them, creates balance, Cesar says. This is what distinguishes the true pack leader from the rest. They are honest. They are real. They accept. They are in touch. They are present. They are respectful. They are balanced. And they know their pack.

I know every single raider. I know what their strengths are, and I know their failings. I know their personalities and I know what triggers them. I know who learns quickly and who needs more time. I know how they feel about loot.

But I also know the non raiders. I know a tiny bit of history about each one. Just making that small effort makes everyone feel like a part of something, and not just a number. I feel like that is the biggest failing of a big guild, and I am determined not to let people just turn into a number. Because, when we're all on the same page, we all work better together, and we all feel like we are a part of a bigger something, which leads to mutual respect.

But for all my ups and downs, for all the stresses and complaints, for all the headaches and performance managing, I do like being the guild leader. I like everyone in the guild (in their own way) and I appreciate each for their talents and accept their failings. If someone could do it better than me, cared about it as much as me, I'd happily give it up so I could just play.

For all you pack leaders out there,  I hope that some of Cesar's Dog Whispering tips help you with you manage your guild.


  1. are you trying to tell me something navi? -spoon

    1. "If someone could do it better than me, ..., I'd happily give it up so I could just play."

  2. I miss my pack, they were my online family and home away from home and leaving the nest was one of the more difficult decisions I had to make.

    But one of the most endearing things about your guild, is the same pack/team/family philosophy that Grumpy's had too. If I ever come back to WoW, I am going to nag you to death for an invite for my main and 21 alts.. that's if I don't go all 'cougar' and stalk Anduin of Stormwind (He reminds me of Heath Ledger for some reason.. mmmm)


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