I will presume that most of you are a leader of your community, or part of leading core group. If this is the case, you already possibly know how much it is important that a group have a good leader.
But what is a good leader? Is it the smartest person, strongest person, best in organizing skills, most eloquent person or simply someone who is voted democratically? How do you choose a good leader, between a strong guy who is charismatic and a great builder who is organized?
From my personal experience in real world, during floods, war or natural disaster, people tend to ask for a leader. In truth, taking responsibility for decisions is a very hard job, and it is NEVER rewarded further than you know that decision made that influence your life is the best - by your measurements, if you are a leader
As a Star Trek fan, I can quote on of great fantasy leaders, Captain Jan Luc Picard, the most Englishman French ever (Gray Earl tea anyone? :) During one episode (se07 ep08 26:30), he and doctor had a mind connection, and after they escaped the lab, there was a crossroads with two road. Doctor asked "where now?" as it was a planet they had no info about, and he said, very firmly: "the left one!"
But after a second, she read his thoughts and said "you don't really know, don't you? You are acting like you know, but you are really guessing. Do you do this all the time?" "No, but there are times where it is needed for captain to give appearance of confidence"
This is something that is always on my mind.
Even when I don't know something, I am confident that I don't know it, and plainly ask for a fact on the matter. And when all are clueless, and look to me to make a decision, I make a confident choice - even if I am only guessing, as guessing involves logic, experience, deduction and observance.
So, how do you choose a person who will leader? Here are few of my thoughts on the matter:
1. A good leader can come from all four temperaments (link)
but usually comes from choleric, because of the mix of traits. Keep in mind that not every leader is choleric, and that not all choleric are leaders. There is much more to it. But, if your group has a choleric, he/she will surely fight for the right to lead. Choleric individuals tend to be more extroverted. They are described as independent, decisive, and goal-oriented, and ambitious. These combined with their dominate, result-oriented outlook make them natural leaders. In Greek, Medieval and Renaissance thought, they were also violent, vengeful, and short-tempered
don't limit yourself to choleric. Other temperaments can lead, with other approaches, and it all depends on the direction your community wishes to partake. If you want to be aggressive, to be goal and results oriented, if there are other communities around you that are opportunistic or aggressive, choleric is a great choice.
But if you desire to grow only trough creativity, charismatic PR, or pure statistics, other types could be more suitable, like phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic respectively
practical AFOL example: In truth, in stressed atmosphere, where decisions need to be swift, changed in the second and where there is strive and conflict, Choleric is the perfect choice. One would say that building constructions out of child's toy is not a place where you would find conflict, but from my a decade long experience as a leader - you would be surprised how much "Game of Thrones" is involved, but then again, it is harmless and usually very unskilled and amateurish. Still, if this is your place of rest and you want to move from scheming and gossiping and wrong kind of captivity (not sports one) like the one you have at work, you would want to find footing and shut these tedious attempts at its root - a Choleric leader is perfect.
After you find footing, and all malicious factors are silenced, a phlegmatic can take over and lead - like, in war, war heroes are fantastic, but they are pretty useless in peace time, ad also damaging, reminding people about previous hardships.
2. Leader has to have integrity. But what that means? That means that being honest is a must "even if it takes you to your doom"
"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright, that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong; that is your oath. [Slap] And that is so you remember it. Rise a knight"
Kingdome of Heaven
It also means that leader needs to have strong moral principles . Please note that principles vary from nation to nation, from community to community - it doesn't matter what they are, if they are firmly established in the community - a good leader has them firmly in grasp, and do not deviate.
a practical AFOL example:
You are community that has decided all of your events are with free entrance, because you think a child should not be deprecated of enjoying your creativity just because his/hers parent do not have money for the ticket. Or you are a leader of a community that has all events with paid entrance, as you know that, for a good impact and diversity of things kids can learn, you need funds to evolve and gather materials. And then a large scale company approaches you, and ask you to make event for them, where entrance will be paid. You will get a nice sum for it, enough to buy another van. And decision needs to be made there, on the spot, no time for days of community debate.
A strong leader of the first club will deny the offer. A strong leader of the second one will accept, pushing them to sweeten a deal.
So, it doesn't matter what principles you follow - stay strong with them. And be honest with you club members
3. Loyalty - loyalty is so far upon a list? Why?
Your community is your pack. Your constructed family. They depend on you to make decisions that will benefit them and group in the whole.
If you are not loyal to ideas, principles, friendship and spirit of the group, you can't find your footing, and you wander - and you do the wandering without the support of your pack.
And without a pack, you are not a leader, you are lonely wolf
"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives,"
Game of Thrones
Being loyal gives your pack a piece of mind, and generates bonds that can't be made otherwise.
a practical AFOL example:
Another club offers you a lot of trinkets and titles to "defect" to them. You are an asset, and they want you!
A good leader will decline, as he is loyal to his/hers pack, even if his/hers pack is less evolved and will need years (or will never) evolve to the stage the other club is. You stay with a pack you've built and whose trust you have earned
4. Sincere enthusiasm - you can't fake this. If you don't have enthusiasm for the topic you are all doing - how can you assert and invest yourself? No chance
a practical AFOL example:
Your club has silently transitioned from RLUG to RLOC. You are talking a lot on internet, but your real life activities are diminished tenfold. You are not a forum moderator or administrator - you excel in live interaction, and you lose interest in virtual discussion, and picture sharing. You slowly loose interest in leading the group, leaving more and more decision making to others - in truth, you are like a king who is retired. There are days, sometimes weeks no one heard from you - it is time to handle the leading rod to someone who knows what rofl means :)
Another extra AFOL example: I have witnessed communities where very charismatic, energetic people who desire the etiquette and titles joined, and fought, pretty aggressively, their way to the top - but once there, they would lose interest as they were not real AFOLs to begin with, and all the trust and procedures they started take club into wrong direction, they leave, and club is left in apathy and disarray - something that is hard to come out from.
5. Confidence - if you are not sure in what you are saying - why would anyone do what you are saying? Go back to that quote of captain Picard. Being confident is important in every day-to-day conversation, and in this world of opportunities and opportunists, you need to fight for your community, if you desire them to evolve - and evolving is a great process that bring a ton of benefits.
practical AFOL example: during conversation with community manager, Local Office, LBR or CLS, not being confident in a proposal you present could lead to its refusal, even if there is merit in it.
Please note that this doesn't mean promising something you can't do, but being confident that what you do is great, what you bring to the table is valuable, and your (club) experience is worth a lot.
6. Inspiring aura - a good leader is not best in anything. Not a best builder, not the smartest person, nor the strongest, not the one with most bricks or the oldest or tallest one. But he know how to inspire the smart one to innovate, strong one to socialize, brick-rich to build, oldest one to party and tallest one to feel extra beautiful
Great leader inspires others to be the best version of themselves, to accept moralities and principles group or leader find rewarding, and to be innovative and creative.
One more trait that does wonders to inspire - I never ask someone to do something I am not willing to do. That means that when van is in the mud, I go into mud first, and others follow - all of them, even the fancy ones.
a real AFOL example: more than once the spirit of our community has been broken - sometimes with decisions of Community Managers, sometimes with wrong business moves. Inspiring others to get up and to push twice as hard to accomplish something in those hard moments is worth gold - a properly inspired person can do wonders - any person, by my experience, especially introvert ones about whose skills you know little about
7. Decision making - being capable to make decisions in the split second is essential. But how can you know which road is the right one? Use logic, experience, advice of experts, feeling, intuition, deduction, observe and listen, and after some time, you will not even think about it - you will make decisions automatically, like when you drive - you will unconsciously observe some things and add them to the equation, and you will be certain that, with the info you had, you made the best decision
It is my practice to inspire this threat in all of Team Leaders, as I noticed people do tend to have sharp logic and decision making skills, they just don't want accountability, and they tend to go easier way, or more pleasurable, even when they know it is not the right one
A real AFOL example: accepting or declining offer from a client, sending problematic member home, or sitting and talking with him/her. Punish or educate, pay or fight, advance or retreat. Accept a hundred new members, or two per year.
8. Accountability. We had a general in World War I, General Zivojin Misic, and when he wins in a battle, he would say "we won". But when the battle was lost, he would say "I lost"
It is common for a good leader to take a little more blame then he/she deserves when things go afoot, and little less praise when there is success. When my guys make a stupid think, even if I am not present, I take a blame - as I choose them for that job, or I have chosen Team Leader who has chosen them - or I have just inspired them in a wrong way for them to know it is wrong and or it will damage the community.
a practical AFOL Example: "when we got an opportunity to build a large mosaic for USA embassy, when we build it, we made a success. And when it collapsed, I made a failure. Then, when we reacted and fixed all within few hours - we made success. When one of our members got drunk and fall into fountain - it was my failure. Yes, he was reclus - I should have foreseen this, and made a larger impact so he would know and do better - and so it goes
9. Communications - being eloquent and charming is a good thing. Intelligence is shown trough humor, and also a trough good problem solving, but wisdom is shown trough good social problem solving. It is not accident that your characters in Role Play Games have intelligence and wisdom as two different stats. And intelligence with wisdom is a prime requisite for a smart communicator. And I make distension between communicating with your members and with clients of the community:
Communicating with clients: being sure in what you bring to table, being clear and not allowing a river of words, from any side, to stray you r from your goal. Being able to defuse and answer in kind when needed
Communicating within the club, with members: being able to present your vision clearly, to present your ideas and conclusions in a way everyone can understand them. It is almost impossible for someone to be a good leader if his/hers communication skills are bad.
a practical AFOL example:
with a client: they desire fan zone with 2m tall robots, ten million bricks in the Fan zone and your members to setup and teardown within two hours. They also say it is a marketing for you, so you need to pay them something - within two sentences you put them on their place, you have a week to setup, playground in Fan Zone is in kilograms, not millions of bricks and you can present 40cm robot, but it is the coolest thing they have ever seen, and interacts with visitors.
with members: TLG sends a msg that shows both them and you as little to nothing worth, everyone is depressed, and they have a very strong word spray painted on the wall about TLG and what they can do with themselves. You explained that they are as confused as we are, even more, and if they want to see us as we are, we need to make even more effort, to be 10 times better than most of the others - to be considered as good as them - unfair, but we have a goal, and goal is evolution, and for them we need TLG. And after they praise us and shower us with gifts and praise, if members desire, we can send the msg from the wall - but only from position of strength, otherwise, we both look and are weak who just retaliate, and clumsy, at best.
10. Delegating - A good leader knows he can't do much alone. In truth, he/she can't get anything worthy of retelling alone. And he/she can't (and shouldn't) oversee everything - so delegating to smart and skillful people is a must - and relying on them to make the right choices. I remember when playing in national team, I was a force to be reckon with, and speed and playing smart were my traits. With time, I become a coach, and when game was going on, I wished to jump inside and do the job myself - but I had to rely on teachings and trading and experience I transfer to my team. I felt helpless, as I could to anything. Same as leader in AFOL world, you feel helpless when members are setting up event in other town, and you are here and can't control it - but you trust their judgment.
"When you are in the cockpit, you are in the control. It's hard to give it up. I had to go through same transition. All you can do now is wait, and hope you didn't make any mistakes"
Battlestar Galactica se01 ep05 26:50
On a personal note, I strongly recommend that you watch the action of this episode to the end, and enjoy first class drama, great suspense and wonderful music in something I consider to be the best TV show ever made :)
Practical AFOL example: we are organizing international convention called Lugs United (that will happen this, 2019. For the seventh time (link)
First time, I wanted everything to be perfect so I did all organization by myself - I had only time for three major things, and all were half finished. Next time I asked someone from the club to help with those three things, and then I got more ideas, which I did by myself - and they were half finished also. Third years everyone had a task, next year every task had two persons responsible, in case on has some issues performing, and on the last year, I everything was delegated I just had fun and socialized with people - and it was deemed as the best Lugs United yet (link) testimonials (link)
11. Charisma - always use cloak of Charisma +2 if you have one, especially if you converse with NPCs :) It is simply - charisma makes people more eager to follow you :) Even villains can have high charisma (look at Prince Charming from Shrek :)
So what is charisma anyway?
" The term "charisma" is used to describe a particular type of leader who uses "values-based, symbolic, and emotion-laden leader signaling" - Wikipedia
Charismatic people approach others with well-spoken words, pleasant fully, they are approachable and friendly. Showing sincere interest and care for others and for goals the team is striving for is also a trait of Charismatic guy
a real AFOL example: we need to move tables from second floor to the first one for event. There are a lot of tables, and not so many of us. Charismatic leader can present it as fun, as competition, turn it on a fun side by adding jokes and cheering for others, while he/she carries his/hers own fair share. After the task, he will congratulate everyone and propose a celebration of the deed in the local pub. He will also title everyone involved with some silly title, like "the table brigade", building sense of belonging and feeling proud of task well done
12. Managing skills So we asked, at the beginning, should we choose one type or the other to be a leader? Skillful builder, or strong organizer? The truth is that none of those skills qualify one to be a good leader - they are great and will help for sure, but the question one must ask himself when making a decision is: can this person inspire? Can he/she make fast and beneficial decisions? Can they direct procedures and ideas, can the motivate involvement and changes, can they mentor and empower?
Those are some of basic traits a good leader should be able to do. Being skilled in building or being great at making Lugbulk tables is superb, but not essential for things mentioned.
Real life AFOL example: AFOL with background in law will push the agenda of making strong club document with new resources you got, and a member that is a great mocer will push agenda of getting more bricks. A great leader will listen arguments from both, and make decision that is beneficial to the group as a whole, if only one of those two things can be done at that moment.
similar example: a member has done something wrong. That Lawyer AFOLS will advocate for punishment by banning, that mocer AFOL will advocate a punishment by not allowing a member to exhibit two events, but a leader will approach a member and try to realize what caused that behavior, then inspire for the behavior not to repeat, or, if he/she realize there is no chance this will not happen again, make measurements that that member is not in a position where that kind of behavior can endanger a club.
13. Empathy - strong hand is good, but you should know who wit feels when it is inflicted upon followers. From my experience, most leaders do dictatorial approach, where their word is the law, and other must obey or hit the road. Discussion is the main key for success here, and putting yourself is someone's else's shoes is how you get to feel at least partially what they feel, and realize why they do what they do. Remember that punishing is the easiest way out, and it is not nurturing change, just fear of being discovered next time. Understanding your members, feeling their issues is a must, but also not enough - providing solutions is next step that is a must - and if there is no solution - emotional support
A real life AFOL example: we had a member that was always problematic, always late, laws easy to get into argument, always in dark mood. He was bringing everyone down. The group wanted to remove. So we sit down, and talked, and in that talk his dark past came to light, and special situation he was facing at home. So with other members chipping in with advices, and some real life assistance, he handled the current issues, and with talk and acceptance he overcome the past ones. Today, he is one of most giving and caring members in the community - one we can't imagine our activities without, one of the most influential and charismatic leaders - and he was an millimeter from expulsion.
14. Innovation - A good leader does not have to be the one who comes up with all the innovative ideas - but he/she has to be the one who inspires people to get them, and then inspires people to introduce them in procedures and activities. Innovation is the bloodline of every community, if evolution is one of the goals. It also brings new types of joy, new challenges and keep activities fresh. Leader who innovates is the leader who keeps his/hers community a step above most others
a real life AFOL example: we used to carry our creations by hand, and put them on the back of the seat. 90% were broken and that was normal, we used to calculate that in our setup time. But, after coming up with our custom made boxes and improving on them, less than 5% gets broken, and that also if the road is really bad - if roads are normal, less than 1% gets broken.
Another real life AFOL example: we had forum with rules like any other club. When bad people started to make life miserable to all of others, and admins said "they are not breaking the rules, there is nothing we can do", we got rid of the rules and put just one: use logic, common sense, and morality". So, people didn't wanted to do what they didn't wanted to be done to them, and 99% of our problems disappeared - we banned the last 1% and we were trouble free.
15. Positive attitude - it doesn't sound like much - but it is a big deal: being positive about the outcome of some activity or project keeps people motivated and relaxed, and their results are much better.
Positive attitude also implies sense of humor.
A real life AFOL example: when our 4x4 m mosaic collapse under the heat of the sun, brick that were not glued scattered, and people were down with spirit, as they knew, we needed weeks to make it, ad only had three hours to fix it. So, I gathered them all, we made a five minute break (while embassy works where having a mental breakdown watching us sitting down in the shade:), and we made a plan how to proceeded - we called all of our members to come, divided into groups who identified the baseplates and their place, other group that rebuild what was broken and third who used screws this time to position them and keep them upward. We finished half an hour early and we got a special commendation from both ambassador, and his deputy. This opened our doors for any there project we envisioned, as we showed we can do great things by building it, but we also showed we can stay clam in stressful situations, and find fast and solid solutions. I spent the rest of the evening sipping ice tea with our president, premier and ambassador who presented us as a power force that can do wonders. This opened our doors for our parliament project (link)
16. Getting your hands dirty - and I mean it in two senses: first, when you need to do something and second, when you need to punish someone Getting into the mud: good leader do not ask members to do something he/she is not willing to do him/herself. Sometimes I don't have the skill, but I still give it a try, or simply admit that my unskillful meddling will damage it, and step aside.
If someone from club needs to be punished, good Leader gives that message him/herself, and face to face, live.
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.” Game of Thrones se01 ep 01 14:20
Of course, this is just quote. If there are swords need to settle a dispute, you are not doing your job well :)
real life AFOL example:
We had a big event with an important client, but literary day before I felt into a whole and damaged wrist. People knew, but when uploading and unloading was happening, you could feel an uneasy in the air - so I took boxes and joined - for a few minutes, when people approached and noted don't, sit, relax, it is fine. And no uneasiness in the air could be felt after - just desire to do was enough.
We had a problematic, huge member who was aggressive, and with his own pack that was his pack even before they all joined our community. After the physical confrontation with another member, I call him, and his pack, and alone presented that he is excluded, and he has to leave. His pack was allowed to stay. It was the only right way to do it, and it also inspired others about two things: violence is unacceptable. And if it still happens, they have a wall in between to protect. So whatever happens, you know you have someone to lean to.
A good leader - a ton of compromises, deductions, empathy, smarts, uncertainties, sadness and warring, but also a ton of joy, fulfillment, proud moments, nice moments and friendships that last forever.
I hope this will help you become a better leader, and that will benefit your community
Have fun, do not forget that, and see you on the next convention ;)