Real Life Leadership Lessons I learned from Kingdoms Live (MMOG)

I will give backgrounds in the Introduction, if you don’t like to read alot, skip to the middle where I outline the leadership lessons (below).

Introduction: Backgrounds – How I became a God of War
About a year and two months ago I started playing a game called “Kingdoms Live” for the Iphone. It is a stat based game where you build a character and a profile, and you begin buying land and getting gold from the land to support your army and weapons. It is a social multiplayer online game because about 200k people are duking it out at any given time through the battle lists. If your stats are good and you have the right weapons, armor, and spells, you win a fight. Pretty simple, so simple in fact that I almost quit playing.

Then I was asked to join a clan. GOW, or Gods of War, a very strong clan across four of Storm 8’s various MMO’s (Imobsters, World War, Ninjas, and Kingdoms Live), had a leader named Bugaboo who asked me if I would like to join. I figured I would give it a shot, since I was about to quit anyway, this might add aspect to the game. Straight up – the organization of GOW and its sheer ability to mobilize against an enemy impressed me. I looked to the leadership of the two Coleaders (the clan is very hierarchical), Bugaboo and Ella, and watched the warlords and dons of war Jinx, Dr. Sleep, and Gotti – seeing them with high stats and the ability to maneuver diplomatically – and I was inspired to lead myself.

I worked my way from Knight to Lieutenant, added recruiter to my name as I brought people in, became a captain, then sr. capt, and very quickly afterward for my ability to talk down an enemy, I was made Ambassador by Bugaboo. Simultaneously I had begun playing as GOW in WW, so I became a colead there and was building up teams and waging a war. Kingdoms Live and World War were the two games that took my time. I lead up three teams in WW, and spent alot of time negotiating and helping team mates under Bugaboos lead.

Eventually there was a split between our clans CEO and Bugaboo, and Bugaboo left with many in Kingdoms Live to start his own clan. It was a messy time, and someone needed to lead so I requested that I be able to leave WW as colead and become a coleader in Kingdoms live in Bugaboo’s place. I love the game, and I love our clan mates, and despite almost all top leadership leaving to form Integrity with Bugaboo over the split I decided to stay and rebuild. It was awesome. For six months we went from basically no activity and being demoralized as we split, to being a dominant active clan ready to fight with ferocity. We went from 70 people inactive (actives had left) to 150 people, with 80 active players, and we were growing.

Currently I am taking a break (partly to catch up on real life, and partly to give my thumbs a break from typing so frequently with so many people across the globe). I would log in and have 100 messages to respond to, and it was beginning to consume me a bit too much. Success became a bit of a bane to me, since I have a very busy regular life, so I had break away to rebalance and focus. I’ll be back after a month or two, however. Remember the name Muad’Dib 😉 Code: 2ps1r

All the principles I learned leading the clan have actually transferred to leading in real life.  There was a huge benefit to leading the clan for 6 months and being part of it for a year.  Here are some of those benefits:

So What Have I Learned Leading the Clan:

(1) To grow a team, you need to be a good recruiter – Being a good recruiter means communicating effectively, being able to show the benefits of being a group together, and showing the purpose of banding together as a clan.  Like with any group, you need to be willing to walk with the new recruits in a slow process of integration, allowing them to ask questions, feel awkward, and take initial baby steps in the new culture.

(2) Group Culture and Activity is Important – if you don’t have active players who care about contributing, you might as well just go it alone.  The benefit of being in a group is that you get to meet new people, fight with people who eventually become friends, and you can strategize together with differing points of view, creating something more whole than an individual can put together on their own.  As you move forward, you either have a GOOD culture, or a BAD culture.  If you greet new members warmly, spend time in the chats, treat other players with respect, and fight with honor and good team skills I believe you have a good culture.  Do the opposite of that and you develop a sarcastic and mean spirited group – and the leaders need to constantly be keeping negativity in check, always inserting positive points of view so that people treat each other right.

(3) Spending time with your group with no agenda grows group consciousness – No one wants to be in a group that is always asking you to do something but doesn’t spend time just getting to know you.  Since all games online are essentially fun because they are social, you need to spend times shooting the breeze with your troops.  You can learn how each other think, solidify relationships, learn about other countries and their cultures, and be better able to deploy the right people in a fight with another clan based on a persons personal nature.  I knew everyone who came into the clan for the full six months.

(4) You need to have a plan – communicating your plan early, often, and well means that your clan will be able to make decisions in the field that represent your clan well.  If your plan is not well known, you will end up with a group of individuals who do as they please with no parameters or accountability.  If you want to grow large, your plan needs to involve getting everyone involved in recruiting with guidelines on how to recruit and you need to show them how.  If you want to grow warriors who are strong, spend time instructing people how to grow their profiles in such ways that they will be prepared in war to face their current level players.  If you want to fight a war, get as much info on the opposing clan as possible and begin assigning people to specific roles such as scouts, target hitters, throwers, wall talkers (trash talkers if you will), diplomats, and intelligence/leadership – rev up the teams to go with a message of impending victory, and remind them they are immortal in this game, and the army erupts in awesomeness.

(5) As leader, you do everything at some point, so everyone can see what is possible – though you can’t do all things all the time, the leader needs to shift around what they are doing.  Sometimes recruiting, sometimes warring, sometimes putting together discipline councils, sometimes talking it up in the chat room, sometimes restructuring the group, sometimes doing diplomacy, sometimes encouraging others, sometimes…  And on and on.  I literally did everything at some point, and I hope that my message was that if the Coleader isn’t too good to do something, then everyone should be able to take up different responsibilities if no one is picking them up.  We all fight together, and we all do everything together.  I do believe that even the knight (first rank) can be a leader of the others.  Basic principle is this: If you want to rise in a group, lead and act as if you are already the rank you wish to be.  Whether you get recognition or not is negligible. Your contributions speak for themself, and you will eventually be respected regardless of position.  A mature leader does things not to be recognized, but because things need to be done.

(6) Someone has to make decisions – any player who defers leadership decisions to others doesn’t deserve a leadership position.  Deferring decisions means the person isn’t willing to accept failure (or victory) and they won’t be able to handle blame if a plan goes awry.  As a leader I made good and bad decisions.  I learned from both, and it grew me as a leader.  In real life and in game, we have to be willing to make tough calls for the sake of the group.  That involves getting as much reliable information as possible, seeking wisdom in understanding the data from others, talking with a few top leaders you trust who can give you their opinions, and making a decision and going with it.  And you need to follow through on your decisions unless you find out that you are wrong.  Someone has to be willing to take the knocks for good and bad decisions – it might as well be you.

(7) Having a Chain of command and Code of Conduct are important and can make or break a clan. New players need to know who they can turn to for reliable information and who can help them get integrated.  In war, each ranked person needs to know what they are allowed to do.  It would be bad if all people were individually negotiating a truce, because then you would have 150 different terms of conditions.  Eventually the lower ranks need to give way to the higher ranks to know who is in charge and who can ultimately call the shots.  And this is something to be taken with great weight.  Leadership needs to know that gaining a rank is something with much honor, but higher leaders are given trust and play a vital role.  Their activity and ability to lead makes or breaks a clan.  So we let the Ambassador make treaties, let the Coleads and Dons of War plan the wars, let the Captains discipline and order the Lts and Knights, and let the Head Captains and Recruiters work out the teams.  This helps the group work well.

Possible Pitfalls of Successful Leadership:

I’m going to be honest, leading up 150 people from varying countries across the globe is a hard job.  Even harder after you win a few wars, and people seek you out in game to seek your help or wisdom for their own clan.  Like I mentioned earlier, I would come on to see 100 messages or so requesting a decision and that meant alot of typing.

My thumbs were seriously getting messed up – its too bad that Storm 8 doesn’t let you play on a PC/Mac.

The more successful you are the more people will seek you out, and you have to decide when you are doing too much. I hit that wall two weeks ago, and had to realistically put the game down.  I felt bad at first, but it slowly gave way to relief.  When I do come back in about a month, most new recruits won’t know me, and I can slowly reintegrate.  I won’t have to put out orders to 150 people every week, and others hopefully will have taken some of the responsibilities that I championed.

Ultimately, I hope my leadership doesn’t vanish into the ether.  I love my clan, and I will return to it.  Here’s to the God’s of War and any clan that is well ordered, fights hard, and has good principles. I salute you.

-Muad’Dib

2ps1r

Add me, though I am in a short break from the game.

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