What is a raid leader and what makes an effective raid leader… a look inside the mind and experience of a raid leader in a casual family guild.
Raid Leader – words that make people cringe when applied to them, or the possibility of doing that job. Most people think that a raid leader does everything, knows everything, and controls everything the night of the raid. Funny, the raid night is the easiest part of the job. A Raid Leader never stops, and the hardest job happens between raids, let’s look at what makes a raid leader successful.
1. Charisma. Not just a skill on your D&D character sheet. This attribute makes people listen to you and receptive to your thoughts. It also makes a raid leader effective. Anyone can learn to have charisma, you just have to step up a notch and be noticed. If you are wrong on a call or a strategy, admit it and move on but maintain control of the situation. This attribute is the only attribute that anyone will ever notice in a raid leader, but it’s probably the least important.
2. Team Building. Above it was mentioned that the raid night is the easiest part of a raid leader’s job, Team building doesn’t happen raid night. It happens every other minute of every day that is not spent in a raid. Talk to the people in the raid or you are thinking about having join the raid. This single item is probably the hardest of anything a raid leader does. You have to take 9 or 24 other people and network them together so that they will perform… it takes a LOT of conversations and time spent together. If you are not online or they are not online, you can’t team build with them. In my personal experience I tend to do this behind the scenes in a way that no one notices. I run randoms, help out with quests/questions, take an interest in alts and latest thing they have done. Your raiders are your children, when they do a finger painting… post it on the proverbial refridgerator!
3. Research. This will take the most time of anything you do. You have to know almost everything about almost everyone in your raid… or know who the raider can talk to that knows everything about that class/spec. You don’t have to know everything all the time… you need to know where it can be found at a minimum so that you can direct people to that source to help themselves improve.
4. Recognize Hunger. This item takes the most sensitivity to your group and to people who “surround” your group (i.e. alts/standbys). What’s the difference between a DPS’er doing 9K dps in ilevel 359 gear and someone who is doing 6K dps in ilevel 359 gear? on the surface, 3K dps. Underneath you may find that you want the 6K dps’er in your raid. Why? Because if the person doing 9K dps is happy where they are and are unwilling to listen, and the person doing 6K dps is frustrated that they aren’t doing more… you have a hunger situation. The person doing 6K dps doesn’t know what is wrong and doesn’t know who or how to ask for help. This is where you as the raid leader step in. You talk to them… I’ve usually approached it this way, I catch them online and then talk to them one-on-one in ventrilo. I usually start with “Hey, I wanted to talk to you for a few minutes about your dps and see if there is anything I can do to help.” Let them say something, then continue with “Well I took a look at your gear and spec and did a little research. If you want we can work on this because I know you will feel better if you are doing better… and that leads to downing bosses.” The hunger is their desire to do the best that the character can to help the raid. They are selfless, but don’t know what they don’t know.
5. Dynamic Strategist. This requires all of the previous numbers, but is about the easiest. Once you know your raiders, how they perform, what situations they are good in, you can formulate strategies on the fly that will work. As an example we were working on Crazy Cat Lady (Auriaya) in Ulduar and couldn’t control both the Feral Defender and the boss. We’d get the boss to about 60% before the healers mana was depleted. So we ignored the Feral Defender until it was about to die… then killed it on purpose. I had no less than four of my best raiders whisper me saying that it wouldn’t work and was a hard mode. I knew the group, I knew the research, and I went on that limb… and we got the boss to 35% first try. I knew that having a huge number of things for people to remember like “kill add 3 times, stay out of bad, kill boss, interrupt boss, regroup on boss’s toes…” was too much. So we shortened and the strategy worked. It worked so well, the 3 ten man groups started using the same strategy and 2 of them downed that boss for the first time the next week. That is the power of the Dynamic Strategist.
6. Janitor. Raid leading is a thankless job. You get all of the blame and none of the credit. All of the excrement of upset/disheartened/irritated or otherwise cranky people is your job. You get to handle loot whores, entitled jerks, elitest jerks, and the general brown end of the stick as Dr. Walter E. Williams would say. Simply put, either be teflon or stain proof, because the smell never goes away but at least you can be clean once in a while.
7. Cheerleader. Not only do you have to do the job of the janitor, you have to keep the spirits of your raid members alive. This is not a pom pom waving job, this is a “I know you can do it” or “Almost, but we just need a little more!”. Sometimes there is nothing you can say… for example when the boss smashes your entire raid in under 13 seconds (yes… Halfus laughed many times at us in under 60 seconds). It’s your job to keep the spirits alive because when the spirits go… so does the raid.
Well, that’s all for now. This isn’t everything, but it’s a good overview. Cheers, and happy raiding!