Teambuilding, Leadership and Management in at least two worlds.

One of the fascinating things about raiding, and especially leading, in World of Warcraft is that it surreptitiously builds a whole new set of skills related to working with virtual teams. In the Real World, we often don’t communicate all that much via text with our teammates, particularly when it’s really important that we have clarity. In Wow, with the exception of voice chat clients like Ventrillo, text is all we have to work with. Of course, we can embellish with a few emotes, but they’re not exactly subtle communications!  /rude  /jk

It’s Still Communication When I’m Keeping My Distance, Right?

In corporations, text is often about distancing us rather than improving the depth of our communications. Text is used, much of the time, to CYA – “Cover Your Assets”. If you have bad news to communicate, or something that might make the other person unhappy, it often seems easier to do that via text. If you’re uncomfortable approaching someone, text is often less threatening than a real life meeting.

It’s also used for other reasons, of course. It’s easy, inexpensive, often asynchronous (you don’t have to both be available at the same time), and tolerably efficient. Not that long ago we’d leave a note, or mail a letter, or send a fax. Now we have email, IM, Twitter, and Facebook to expand our communications repertoire.

Look ‘Em In the Eye

However, when you really need to understand someone, you do it face to face. Hiring, negotiations, sales, performance appraisals, certain types of training are examples of activities where being face to face raises the level of communication enormously. Posture, gestures, and other body language, as well as tone of voice, are huge in building trusting relationships. Eye contact is probably even more important. Even touch matters. Salespeople are taught how to shake hands well, because it’s important.

This topic came to mind because I’m doing business with someone who is highly skilled in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). Due to this background, he’s exquisitely conscious of body language, eye movement, muscle tension and other visual communications (both deliberate and inadvertent). He knows how to read these clues, and he’s very unhappy in any communication where they’re missing. We’re meeting regularly from across the continent, and phone just isn’t visual enough for him. so we usually use a Skype video chat connection.

If You Only Have One Channel, Make It A Good Program

This really highlights for me how much playing Wow has affected my comfort level with working very closely with people in a text-only environment. I “hire” based on text interactions as a guild leader in Wow. I gauge people’s mood from guild chat and private comments. I resolve most conflict in text. Having done this for years, I’ve learned to do certain things to facilitate my interactions with my guildmates.

  • Figure out how you feel, so you can communicate it accurately. “Decode” your own stuff and state it accurately.
  • If someone upsets you in any way, inquire immediately about their intention.
  • Realize that it’s not all about you and there are real people out there, even if you can’t see them.
  • Fear strangers less. The vast majority of the people I meet online are kind, pleasant, intelligent human beings.
  • Learn to summarize and give instructions well.
  • Learn to ask good questions. Dialogue is important to any goal you want to reach together.
  • Appreciate the people around you, especially those who put effort into trying to communicate clearly and interact positively.
  • Always give people the benefit of the doubt, and room to save face.
  • Listen well.

I believe that these skills, honed in virtual worlds, equip us better to work on virtual teams. The dragons we set out to defeat are different in the Real World, but the ability to communicate well, building trusting, respectful relationships when we’re not face to face, is a very useful skill in all worlds.

This isn’t going to be your typical World of Warcraft blog.

I have a strong interest in leadership, management, and teambuilding. World of Warcraft has been an incredible environment for me to observe some things about what works, what doesn’t, and why. The opportunity to compare and contrast these activities between gaming and RL, aka “Real Life” has, I believe, broadened and strengthened my previous understanding of them.

It’s also really messed up my work life. I used to like playing solo, in both Wow and RL. Now I prefer being on a team. I have a whole new appreciation for the scope of what can be achieved by a team working in synergy together. In short, I’ve been wrecked as a soloist entrepreneur. I want to be part of a team. At a minimum, I want a partner or a Mastermind group to swap and explore ideas with. I’ve learned down to the core of my being that you don’t accomplish great things solo. Or at least not as great as those you can accomplish with the right team. Two (or more) heads really are better than one, as long as they interact effectively.

So whatever the dragons you want to overcome in your life, I believe building a team will help. Being able to do the leadership and management tasks necessary to keep a team running well will get you further than soloing. That’s the stuff I’m here to write about. I just think it will be more entertaining for both of us if I mix in illustrations from the game. Some days its more fun to think of defeating a dragon than creating a killer marketing plan. Overcoming a giant, rather than managing a project.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Welcome to Defeat Dragons.

 

About Author

Atris, known in another world as Karilee, is a World of Warcraft Guild Leader and Business Consultant fascinated by how Leadership, Management and Teambuilding work in two different worlds. She believes that good leaders, good managers and good teams are essential for successfully defeating dragons, no matter what world you find yourself in.