Motivating Raiders: Part 1 – Fear
I got feedback from a few people that they enjoyed my Fear, Love, Respect post but missed a part about practical application. The following sequels will attempt to remedy that by detailing ways in which you can achieve each of the three and what consequences that may have. I originally meant for it to be only one sequel but well, it got somewhat big, so we are only dealing with fear today. Love and respect will follow.
If you haven’t read the post I linked above, please do that or wait for the other parts of this series before you imply that I suggest ruling by fear alone – I don’t.
If you wish to lead through fear, you need to make it clear to your raiders that bad behaviour will be punished and that it’s better for them to behave. Essentially you are appealing to their sense of self preservation. Be aware that there are two kinds of fear, only one of which seems desirable to me. Players can fear the rules or they can fear you. Fearing the rules (or, well, their repercussions) is almost required in any larger community of humans because we do have a tendency to be selfish.
“To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant. Wolfe.”– Thomas Hobbes, De Cive
The above quote from Hobbes is better know as “homo homini lupus” or “man is a wolf to man”. Now obviously people can be unselfish and help others out of altruism, but the larger the group becomes the less likely you are to have that connection between everyone. People will act selfishly and you will need rules to keep them in check.
Below is a list of a few repercussions you can use when your rules are not followed.
A players who is threatened with a loot reduction will think twice before breaking rules and will work harder to meet expectations. Be aware though, that a DKP reduction is very quantifieable and can easily be seen as unfair if you don’t apply it rigorously at every offense. Players can also get very emotional about this kind of penalty, even worse than with public naming and shaming. If you do use this tool, be sure people have been prepared for that possibility. Tell them you will start deducting DKP when an issue happens once more and pray that it doesn’t. The threat will inspire fear, the actual execution may inspire hatred.
I hinted above that there are two kinds of fear, and I have talked about why fear of the rules can be good. The other kind is fear of the person, you. A player that is afraid of breaking the rules can be pretty secure that they will be treated fairly if they adhere to the rules, but they will also be prone to negative actions that are not explicitly forbidden in the rules. Some leaders may therefore prefer to be feared themselves. If a leader is known as vengeful and unforgiving, players will be more likely to analyse their own actions for things that may offend her. A feared leader won’t have to deal with “but that’s not in the rules” because everyone knows that the rules are what the leader wants them to be. A feared leader will use harsh punishments and won’t be shy to guild kick people she doesn’t personally like.
If you are a highly successful competitive raiding guild, leading in this style may work – but people will only follow you because they fear the repercussions of not doing so. We recently had the top Alliance guild on our server (and previously top guild on the server on both sides) disband, and their leader used such an approach as far as I am informed. People were willing to put up with it as long as the alternatives were only going to a much less progressed guild or transferring servers. Well, progress recently wasn’t so good any more and all of a sudden people weren’t willing to put up with it any longer. The results – revolution, a dead king and a dead guild.1
Fear of the person, in my opinion, cannot work in the long run. As useful as it may be to actually get people to think about your reaction to their actions, the risk is just to high. You also lose most possibilities to inspire real love, the circle of your real friends will be dangerously small.
Machiavelli warned about this, and so do I. It is all fine and dandy to rule by (some measure of) fear, but you have to be very careful not to become hated. Overly harsh punishments will cause this as well as unfair ones. If you don’t explain your decisions or don’t have a foundation for them, people will take it personally and start to hate you. If you punish some people but not others with the same offense, people will hate you. If you have fixed rules set up, most people won’t start hating you if you act them out. But if you are acting willy-nilly or are working through personal fear they will hate you. Ignore people who make good suggestions or talk over them and fail to admit that you yourself were wrong and people will hate you.
Hatred does not always manifest itself openly right away, especially if you are feared. But people will start to talk behind your back and be happy if someone defies you or you are proven wrong. This will cause people to take every opportunity to hurt you as long as they believe you won’t notice it, and may cause them to jump ship as soon as they see greener pastures on the horizon. It may also make people simply unhappy and therefore less focused on the game, ending up in outright quitting it.
Long story short – if you want to be feared, make absolutely sure you are not hated or the consequences will be dire. I’ve seen hated raid leaders before and their style worked for a while, but never for long.
If you liked this, join me in part 2. If you didn’t, dammit, leave a comment and tell me why 😉