Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cult of Personality

I do adore Freebooted's Blog Banters, and he finally put up one I feel inspired to write about: Propaganda.  Though I've never been one for making those awesome posters, I've always been a fan.  They're one of my favorite mediums.  I'm going to skirt the topic a little and talk about the message a little more than the media, if I may.

Leading a team is about writing a narrative.  Plain and simple, to get people to follow your dream and make your organization successful, you better be writing the story.  Not to say you need to literally keep a timeline and hire a corporate minstrel to sing your collective epic, but a constant eye-on-the prize when it comes to your story will absolutely go miles to motivating your team.  Propaganda is a weapon in your motivational arsenal; a means to put a face on an idea.

The Power of Dissent -- Don't you think she looks tired?

The most powerful force against teamwork is doubt.  A single word from the right person in the right tone will do more damage to an organization than a million bullets.   We have all been on teams where the trust has eroded.  A well placed awox, a mail from a director, a whelping.  Though failure is a large part of the journey to success, mishandling morale can have deadly fallout.

A story I have seen played out time and again is the belligerent director.  Organization is on target with their goals when one butt-hurt director pipes up with a "This is a bad idea" on a public thread.  This ripples up and down the organization until the entire project falls to shreds, leaving the whole team decimated.  I've seen this happen as an 'accident', and also as wholly intentional.  Regardless of intention or blame, the result is usually the same... fail-cascade

To the aspiring leaders out there: the way you talk with your inner circle and the way you interact with the general membership are completely different.  Among your directors, disagreements are natural, expected, and having something to fight over is a good thing.  As a leader to your organization, it's up to you and your inner circle to remain stalwart in the face of adversity.  Pick up the pieces, show your members how you are moving forward as a group.  Hardship is the fire that bonds your members into a cohesive team.  Communal suffering is the best team building.

Elements of Your Narrative

Plot

This one is the most straight forward.  Plot is the part where you point to a star on the map and say "this is where we are going".  This is best achieved with achievable and trackable goals.  If you're an industry corp, get your miners to harvest the minerals to build a corp freighter.  If you're a pirate organization, aim for a #kills/month.  Whatever the group is meant to do, make sure you have the boat pointed toward a destination and chart progress.

Characters

An organization is nothing without members.  Though it's important to remember "if everyone is special, no one is", highlighting contributors and holding them up to your membership is important.  Point at specific members that made the op successful.  Leadership should try to shoulder failures, where general membership should get to bask in the glory of success.  Bonus points to giving specific credit to those who may not be getting any otherwise... *cough*logistics*cough*.  Remember, for praise to land effectively, you have to highlight INDIVIDUALS. 

On the other side of the coin, it helps to have rivals.  Having an enemy to beat is another powerful motivator. Space is a mean place!  Even if it's a friendly rivalry, having a point to compete against will go a long way to keeping plans on track.

Setting

This one is a little tougher to nail down, but make sure your pilots have a sense of ownership.  Place is a powerful motivator.  Fight for home and country.  Maybe you're nomads, maybe you have a comfy home near good mining belts, maybe you have tech to defend.  Use setting as a motivator when you are looking to conquer.  Make sure members and goals have a stake in defending or toppling the castle.  

Drinking the Kool-Aid

As narrator to your story, leadership should be committed to the narrative.  Negatives "will not stop us", successes "are thanks to our divine skill".  I might be painting a broad brush here, but leading a corp in EVE is closer to leading a cult than anything else.  In the end you are convincing people to give their free time to your story.  Though I won't pretend I know how Goon, Test, or PL keep all those cats wrangled, but I have a feeling they use most of the elements above (consciencely or not)