5 Ways to Avoid GM and Raid Leader Burn-Out

Leadership is tough. If it was easy everyone would be successful at it. Too often the hard work of leading a guild or a raid wears down even the most talented and charismatic of us and leaves us feeling wrung out and dried up. Burn-out, and how to avoid it, is one of the things we talk about a lot among the leadership team at Thundering Hammer frequently. We’re a competitive bunch and we’ve seen it happen far too often, so we’re constantly looking for ways to stay fresh and energized for the sake of our teammates. Here are five of the ways we avoid burn out both as competitive players and as leaders:

You know that guy who is always afk when you need to queue up for the next Rated BG? Yeah, not like that. What we try and do in Thundering Hammer is make sure everyone has the freedom to get off the computer, out of the house and be seriously AFK. For the longest time we’ve put a moratorium on Friday night events and encouraged our leaders and members to go have a date night, or spend some time out with friends.

Recently we’ve started running a casual Flex group on Friday nights but at this point the “Get out of the house” culture has been so ingrained that people feel no worries at all about scheduling real life outings and staying away from the computer. The truth is that guild life continues to go on just fine even when our officers take a couple nights off a week to be real human beings away from the luminescent glow of the tiny idol on their desks and it will go on without you too. Well it will at any rate if you also know how to:

Delegate Authority
One of the most common mistakes guild and raid leaders make is to delegate responsibilities without also delegating authority. We have to be willing to let other people shoulder the burden of leadership with us – and that also means letting them make important decisions. If your officers are constantly coming to you to ask for your permission to do things that are necessary for them to fulfill their responsibilities as officers that’s Clue #1 that you haven’t delegated enough authority.

In order to do this well you have to first make sure that your officers are both competent and fully equipped to lead. Make sure you’ve clearly spelled out the expectations, that you have buy-in from them for the vision for your guild or raid, and that you’ve invested your own time and effort in their success. If you spend your time working for your officers benefit, you’ll find you have to spend less time working for the guild as a whole.

Have an Outlet Game
One of the things that we have found exceptionally helpful and healthy for leaders in our setting is to make sure that they have permission – and are encouraged even! – to play other games. It helps to have a game you can go to to just unwind and not have to think about the responsibilities that are attached to your WoW life. That doesn’t mean you should dissapear into another game for weeks at a time, but if you schedule regular time in other games you’ll find it will help you stay fresh and engaged in your WoW life.

One of the things we do is host a monthly table-top game night at our GM’s house. Obviously many of our guildies are spread across the country, but those who are close by usually attend along with a host of other real-life friends. We also have set up a community on Steam and have traded contact information on Facebook, X-Box Live and other gaming platforms. People need to know that its ok to just be a gamer, and that your community is about encouraging them to game together and have fun. The minute that your time together becomes all about work rather than play you’re going to have a dysfunctional situation on your hands. Your members, and your officers especially, already have real jobs in the real world – they don’t need another one.

Have Fun on Purpose
As a GM or an officer you spend a lot of your time in game dealing with responsibilities. Sometimes those responsibilities wind up falling into the category of ‘things I need to do’ rather than ‘things I want to do.’ The truth is that you spend $15 a month to have fun, and you need to make sure you’re having fun with it otherwise your attitude will turn south in a hurry. Make sure you intentionally set yourself up to do things you enjoy in game.

Is the Auction House your thing? Are you an explorer? Do you find sustenance in the tears of your enemies? Whatever your in-game joy comes from, make sure you are doing it and make sure to involve other people in the guild with you! Share your passion and your love and you will enjoy your time logged in more and build a better team at the same time.

Connect With a Safety Valve
Last but not least, every leader needs to have someone outside of their organization that they can go to for counsel and just to blow off steam. Make sure there is someone in your life who can relate to your in-game stresses that you can trust with the sometimes serious business of leading people in this volunteer, entertainment oriented setting. Maybe it’s another GM, or an raid leader from another server or a coworker in your real life who is also a gaming enthusiast. Either way you need someone you can trust to help you unpack the week-to-week concerns that will inevitably come your way.

I saw an illustration in my Facebook feed this past week that said that the word ‘worry’ originally comes from an anglo-saxon root that means ‘to strangle or choke.’ (No really, it does – check it out.) That’s appropriate because that is exactly what will happen to all of your joy in game if you hold on to your stresses and worries and don’t let them out by sharing. Leadership is a group quest, not a solo grind and if you really want to be successful at it you’re going to need to enlist the help of some trustworthy battle companions.



Obviously there are many more things that could be said here. This list isn’t exhaustive or authoritative, but they are things that work for us. What do you do to stave off Burn-Out in your role as a leader in the WoW community? Sound off on Twitter, Facebook or G+ and let us know and in the mean-time, lead well!

We’ll see you on the field!

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