Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of your players and the League under your command. Your style of leadership should always adapt to the particular demands of the situation, the people involved, and the particular challenges facing the League. A top Beacon-holding League with experienced players may require a different type of leader than would a League of less experienced players that don’t play as competitively.
When it comes to running a League, there are two main leadership styles: the "autocratic" and the "permissive", each with several sub-types. It is possible to combine styles according to the circumstances, and the most effective leaders are flexible and can switch between them depending on what the situation calls for.
Autocratic Marshals are typically in total control of the decision making process. Input from the lower ranks is very limited, and may not be taken into account in the planning process as ideas tend to flow downwards. An autocratic Marshal closely supervises those under them, and Captains and Commanders are generally expected to do as directed.
This is a “military” or “top-down” style of leadership – frequently used, but rarely effective in the long term. Because it uses the stick more often than the carrot, it can be very damaging to League morale. When the criticism exceeds the praise, people will find another League where they can enjoy the game instead of dreading every login.
It can be highly effective in a crisis, but as a day-to-day leadership style it can lead to a high player turnover and low general satisfaction in the League due to leadership’s “do as I say or you’re out” attitude. Players may feel that there is little to no room for discussion, and that complaining is not worth the effort. The lack of communication common to this dictatorial leadership style can kill a League quickly.
This is a very hands-on approach to leading, where the Marshal acts as a parental figure and usually works closely with a select group of players while generally ignoring others. This may work with players who show initiative and want to learn the advanced tactics, but not as well with players who are less motivated or experienced. Players are expected to become totally committed to what the leader believes and are not encouraged to take independent action. The majority of the communication is aimed downward, with the Marshal setting both the goals and the method to reach them.
This can be perceived by some as micromanaging, and can undermine a player’s self-confidence, especially if the Marshal has strong opinions about the best methods for success. It can also give the appearance of playing favorites if the Marshal includes the players who are more likely to follow his directions and excludes those who object to the high level of control or have their own opinions.
With this style, the Marshal sets an ambitious goal for the League and is constantly pushing the players to meet it. They believe that players should "do as they do" and are obsessive about doing things better, faster, and harder. While they ask the same of everyone, it can put a lot of pressure on players who feel that they can’t meet the required standard.
This style should be used carefully, because some players don’t respond well to this type of pressure; it can damage morale, and can lead to players quitting the game altogether because they feel that they are failures since they can’t meet the Marshal’s standards.
Permissive Marshals allow for more flexibility in decision making and a looser control over the lower ranks. This type of Marshal is likely to invite the lower-ranking players to give suggestions and opinions about League issues. Captains and Commanders will have a higher level of independence, and will be allowed to carry their duties without constant supervision. The permissive leader may provide general direction but allow players to define the details of how specific goals and operations are accomplished.
These leaders will find solutions to problems by including all parties in the decision making process. This style draws on each player’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals. This style can create more effective fighters and defenders because players feel that their contributions are accepted and appreciated, leading to an increase in group morale and higher daily participation.
Democratic leadership can lead to better ideas and more creative solutions to problems. The democratic style of leadership still requires the Marshal to hold the final decisionmaking power, or the whole thing becomes “Leadership by Committee”, which can be disastrous in times of crisis, when a quick decision is needed.
The Marshal will normally allow subordinates to find their own solutions, and while they provide assistance to accomplish their goals when asked, they do not directly participate in decisionmaking unless they the League insists. The Marshal will otherwise invest most of their attention into their own gameplay.
This style only works when the players are experienced, self-motivated, and trustworthy. It can be disastrous if the players are not experienced and independent, and the Marshal can’t, or won’t, communicate with them on a regular basis. League chat tends to be sparse in a League with this type of leadership, and players can feel abandoned and might leave for a more supportive League with a more attentive leader.
A Marshal who follows this style of leading challenges and inspires their players with a sense of purpose and excitement. They work to create a vision of what they want the League to be, and communicate this idea to the group, motivating players towards a shared goal through personal charisma. This style is most appropriate when a League needs a new direction to succeed due to previous leadership problems or recent player or League issues. Visionary leaders tell players where the group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, and contribute their ideas towards the success of the League.
The downside of this style is that sometimes the very personality traits that make up a good Visionary leader can also be narcissistic tendencies, and make them over-sensitive to criticism, over-competitive, ethically-challenged, and isolated by their own success.
This style emphasizes the importance of teamwork, and requires the Marshal to intervene only when players do not meet their expected performance levels. The Marshal gives rewards and praise for effort and achievement, in exchange for a certain level of performance. This can allow poor performance to go uncorrected, though, because some players may feel that giving less than their full efforts is tolerated due to the apparent lack of accountability.
This approach is particularly good when trying to improve team play, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in leadership. It can encourage participation and innovation, and works well with a team of supporting officers who are able to behave in an impartial manner when enforcing policy, and are able to focus on a given situation without letting their emotions affect their decisions. This can devolve into a "good cop/bad cop" situation if not handled carefully.
As you can see, there isn’t one right way to lead a League. A good leader needs to analyze the situation and the players involved and decided which style of leadership will be best to utilize. It’s not easy having to shift between different styles, so most leaders will probably want to choose one of the two main styles, "autocratic" and "permissive", and test different sub-types. Hopefully after reading this article you know which type of leader you wish to be, and what leader your League needs right now.
This article was written by player Lady Nerium, who granted permission for it to be posted on Plarium.com. Any thoughts or views expressed herein are the player's own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Plarium Global.