Gisli Responds...

Gisli is perhaps the most-trusted defense RvR leader in Mid/Perc, and a voice of reason in RvR raids. Combining sharp tactical clue with an easy-going attitude, Gisli has also been described as "the nicest guy." Finally, see his July 2005 answers about why he returned to DAoC.
  1. What kind of leadership do you do in DAoC? (e.g., guild leadership? leading multi-group PvE or RvR raids? RvR gank groups? all of the above?)

    I am the main guild leader for my guild (sort of by inheritance -- I didn't start the guild, the other guild leaders have quit playing). I am the leader for my alliance (I started the alliance). I do a lot of RvR realm defense. I sometimes lead offensive RvR raids. I sometimes lead PvE raids if necessary, but I enjoy that the least. I rarely lead single gank groups in RvR, there's plenty of other folks who can do that. In general, I lead when I want something to happen and nobody else will do it, but I'd prefer to let others lead if they are available and can do a good job.

  2. Have you had any formal leadership training in RL? (e.g., military, leadership seminars, etc.)

    A small amount of incidental leadership training, here and there. Very little formal training.

  3. What background has helped you become the leader you are now? it>(e.g., raising kids, just plain leading raids in DAoC, having been a business leader, etc.)

    I have (young) kids, but I don't think I have learned significant leadership skills from that.
    I have been a leader in small school and community organizations. I have teaching experience, and administrative experience. I have significant supervisory work experience.
    Before playing DAOC, I played EQ for 2 years. I was an assistant guild leader there, and did some (small) raid leading.
    I've got no military experience whatsoever.

  4. What background/experience (in and out of game) has helped you with the *tactics and strategies* of RvR?

    The other sort of background I have is extensive experience at games. I've played board war games (and then computer war games) for thirty years. I was always very good at these. And of course, lots of chess, card games, etc. Also my share of computer games, including FRP games, "command and conquor" type games, first-person shooter games, and "Civilization" type games. When I was younger, I read a lot of military history. When I was in college, I was in a medieval re-creation organization. All of this helps me be a leader in DAOC.

  5. . What is your approximate age? (20-24, 25-29; or 20-29, 30-39, etc.)


  6. Do you have or have you had your own family? (i.e., live(d) in your own household (not your parents') with at least one other person)

    Married with 2 children, ages 5 and 6

  7. What are your goal(s) and motivation(s) as a leader? (e.g., to win? to make sure everyone has a good time? RPs? fame & fortune?)

    There are different types of leading. Leading in RvR is completely different from leading a guild, requiring different skills and having different goals.
    When I lead in RvR, I'm trying to accomplish a mission. Most commonly, I'm leading the defense, trying to stop an enemy relic raid, stop an enemy keep raid, or retake a keep from the enemy. When leading on defense, my goal is to win, and to do so as quickly as possible. This normally lets most people have a good time, since most people when part of the defense army do want to win, and they don't want to waste a lot of time standing around. So rarely do winning and having a good time conflict. There is a bit of conflict when it comes to deciding whether to wait for stragglers, go rez someone, etc. In that case, I try to balance things. Again, most people want to win, and win quickly, so this has to take priority over waiting for everyone when a choice must be made.
    Leading a guild is different. In that situation, I want the guild to be as successful as possible. To me that means giving everyone the opportunity to make the most of the game.

  8. What are the most important traits of a good leader, and what, in your opinion, distinguishes a good leader from a *bad* leader?

    The single most imporant trait is to have a lot of empathy for what your followers are feeling. Are they impatient or not? Is their morale good? etc. A lot of leading is being able to judge what the followers are capable of doing.
    Most of the time, successful leading is accomplished by "pulling" people to do what you want, not "pushing" them. That can be a hard concept to understand, and to stay on the right side of. "Pushing" is nagging people to behave the way you want, especially if its against their natural inclination. "Pulling" is communicating what you intend, then moving forward and hoping people follow you.
    Some bad traits include wasting people's time, being indicisive and unclear, and trying to bully people. Note that being indicisive is different from changing your mind. So long as you communicate clear and definite directions, you are coming across as decisive. I counter-march armies all the time when circumstances change and don't find that to be a problem, so long as I make clear what we are doing now, and why.
    Its usually a good idea to communicate why you having the army do whatever is the intended next step.
    So long as you give the impression of being firmly in charge, people will rarely second-guess what you are doing in public.

  9. What should an aspiring leader always keep in mind? What mistakes should he/she avoid? (Multple answers ok)

    An army is a little like a river. Its going to flow in some direction. A leader can channel the flow, but can't dam it up completely, nor make it flow uphill. Again, its a matter of being able to judge what the army can do.
    Try not to take on too much responsibility. First off, try to not get out of your depth in what you are leading. Its best to learn how to lead in stages. An aspiring leader might want to do small PvE raids. Definately do offensive raids before attempting to lead defense. Offense raid rarely have much at stake, so if they fail people won't get too mad usually (if it doesn't waste to much of their time). On the other hand, screwing up on defense will make people bad tempered, partly because they feel there's more at stake, and also because they feel trapped into staying with a bad situation.
    The other aspect of not taking on too much responsibility is to delegate as much responsibility as possible. There are many secondary leadership roles that need to be played, such as march leader, siege leader, scout leader, etc. The main leader can't do all of this, and often should do none of it. Try to spread jobs around.

  10. What, in your opinion, makes a good follower?

    The most important thing to remember as a follower is that leaders have only so much "bandwidth". They can only type so much, they can only handle so much information and stimulation, and can only handle a limited number of concerns and tasks. The less unnecessary tasks that are dumped onto the leader, the better. In general, the best followers are self-sufficent. They can get grouped, rallied, rez'ed, etc. on their own. Good followers will step up to secondary leadership responsibilities. That might involve scouting, going to rez someone, taking 2-3 groups to hit a secondary target.
    Good leaders, especially in large activities, usually have a small "advisory team" of one or two people. Unless you are a member of the leader's advisory team, they probably don't want to hear "good advice" from you. Usually "advice" is just more unwanted spam.

  11. Do you have a leader role-model, or someone whose style you emulate in whole or part?

    As a guild leader, my main role model is the guild leader from my EQ guild. He was very laid-back and didn't interfere unless necessary, and I try to do the same.
    As an RvR leader, I certainly watched carefully what the other leaders were doing when I was first learning. The main ones the I recall from the early days are Bombarta, Durgin, and Beow. I can't say that I emulate any of them. But I learned from them, but things to do and things not to do. I try to learn from the more recent leaders as well.

  12. Who do you think are other good leaders (in game/out of game)?

    We've got several good RvR leaders right now. Sanger, Candide, Snapp, Galroth come to mind. I'm forgetting a couple, and I'll try to add them in when I remember.

  13. Any more comments on your own style of leadership (and/or "followship")?

    Some more random comments on leadership in general.
    Don't try to be a RvR leader in DAOC unless you are a "leader-type" person. It doesn't come from nowhere. If you are the type of person who never leads in real life, you probably won't be able to suddent lead in a computer game. However, leadership in real life can take on many roles. If you are the person in your group of friends who gets them organized and gets them to settle on the movie or the restaurant, and gets them out to the car on time, then you might be a good leader in DAOC. If you're always taking on jobs like treasurer or president of whatever school or civic group you spend your time with, you might be a good leader in DAOC. If you never do any of that sort of thing, then you probably can't do it in-game either.

  14. Bonus question: Some of you role-play while leading. Any comments on the role of roleplaying with leadership?

    If you are comfortable doing that, go for it. I don't think it helps or hurts.

  15. Do you think leadership in DAoC has had positive (or even negative) effects in you and your Real Life? If so, in what way?

    Playing DAOC has a negative impact on other aspects of my life, because I've devoted too much time to it at the expense of other things. But that has nothing to do with leadership per se. That aside, within the context of my game experience, leading has a plus and a minus. The plus is that it is very rewarding. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that is at the heart of a lot of the reason to play the game in my opinion. The minus is that it adds a lot of stress. The worst aspect of this is that there are many times when I feel obligated to help out in a leadership role when what I'd rather do at that particular moment is something low stress, whether its just follow along mindlessly or do something else entirely. Overall, the pluses outweigh the minuses for me.

  16. If you have alts that take up leadership, do you find that followers treat you differently when they don't know it's "you"?

    Yes, of course. People follow people they trust. It takes time to build that trust. I could say and do exactly the same things on an alt character, and get a totally different response from the horde. Only rarely do I attempt to overcome that barrier with one of my alts. Even if I say who I am at the start (which I don't necessarily want to do), anyone coming in in the middle won't know that information. In general, if its an important leadership role, such as a realm defense, I deliberately switch to my "leadership" character so as to minimize confusion. When I'm leading a PvE raid, I'll use the character that is most useful to me in that context, since its easier to say in advance who I am.

DAoC Leadership Resources