Team Leadership for Dummies - By Nept

Discussion in 'Competition' started by OmniNept, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    [​IMG]

    This post is about leadership. It is also long. If you are not interested in a long post on leadership, then refrain from reading this long post on leadership. Even if you are interested, I suggest reading this post in spurts, as it is possibly the longest post in the history of Legions. You have been warned.


    I started this post months ago when Legions was experiencing a revival of sorts. I figured it might carry relevance for the myriad of new teams, and I wanted to put onto paper the leadership process I've been following for the past few years.

    Unfortunately, as I began studying for my graduate entrance exams, this essay was neglected. Now that they're done, though, I figure it's time to write again – regardless of the post's current community relevance. If you find it useful, wonderful; if not, perhaps it'll provide entertainment or some non-Legions related insight.

    So who am I to talk? I'm Nept, the co-founder and captain of Omniscient for near-on seven years. I lead, and I do it well. (lololol). In all seriousness, this section will be the most ego-intensive part of the post; if you're a proponent of shame and modesty, skip it.

    Ego-sensitive peoples should now stop reading

    Omniscient began as a competitive team in Unreal 2 XMP, garnering sponsorship and top spots in both NA and Euro comp. After XMP, Omni spent a summer in Lineage 2, where we expanded to 400+ members, became the dominant alliance in a very “hardcore”, politically-charged MMO, and captured the server's first castle. WoW followed, where we were the top PvP team on Mannoroth – one of the original five servers, and the most PvP-intensive at the time. At this point, I had become sick of the MMO timesink, and so pared our membership and dragged the team to Legions.

    While we're currently quiescent, I imagine most remember our activities: as an inexperienced Legions team, we took second in the first BFCL CTF season (and top North American spot), first in BFCL TDM, and first on the North American CTF ladder; our members are recognized as top players in their respective positions, and our team possesses a preponderance of the game's best duelists.

    After Legions lost its competitive scene, we tried Mech Warrior: Living Legends (which lacked competition at the time, though has become an option as of late), Transformers: War for Cybertron (where we sort of slaughtered scrim partners into leaving the game), and Front Mission: Evolved (where much the same happened, unfortunately). We gravitate toward fast-paced, skill-based games, and are currently watching Hawken, Miner Wars, Planetside 2, Tribes Ascend, Firefall, and Tribes: Universe.

    Ego-sensitive peoples may now resume reading

    Accolades aside, Omnicient's strength lies in our composition: our members, while extremely skilled, are also companions and friends, not mere teammates. It's this quality that differentiates Omniscient from other online teams (also our awesomeness), and it's this quality that makes our endeavours matter. In the long run you'll not care about onlineego-tripping (nor will anyone else) - only about the people and shared experiences that have made the time worthwhile.

    As you're reading this post, please remember that I lead from a particular perspective: I want a tight-knit group of friends, but I also want to win. Everything. All of the time. If you're less interested in winning, some sections – mainly recruitment and management – won't be entirely applicable.

    This post contains (or will contain) the following sections:
    1) [Leader] Personality tips, tricks, and necessities
    2) Recruitment
    a) Personality
    b) Potential
    3) Management (General)
    4) Management (In-Game)
    5) Goals


    Personality tips, tricks, and necessities.

    Team leaders vary in their styles, so a laundry list of personality traits isn't appropriate for this post. I can, however, provide a listing of “what not to do”. So here's that.

    You're unfit to lead if:

    • You can't control your emotions.
    Ventrilo transmits frustration as well as it does voices; one angry rant can set an entire server on edge, and in a heated match, that's one of the worst things that can happen. Unless you've recruited team Vulcan, your players will have their fair share of frustrations. You need to be in control of your own emotions before you can check theirs.

    • You're interested only in winning.
    Winning's wonderful, but if you've formed a team with only winning in mind, you're going to have a miserable time. Omniscient cares very much about winning, and we mean to “win” each game we play. We don't play only to win, though, with our members genuinely enjoying each other's company and the competitive relationships within the team.

    • Sounds trite, I know. But consider the following:
    In every game we've played, FPS or otherwise, we've encountered the stereotypical “vet” team – a team composed of early-access players, be they alpha/beta testers or developers. While there's often drama between several members, it's set aside (oh so temporarily) for the greater goal of winning. And in every case, these teams have crumbled – always after their first hardship. Simply put, when your sole goal is winning, you're easily disheartened.

    • Your ego is insurmountable.
    Team. Teeeeeeaaaaaaam.

    • You refuse full responsibility.
    If your team performs poorly, look no further than yourself when casting blame. It is never the fault of one or two team members, one or two botched plays; it is always your fault, though, because as leader, you're responsible for everyone.

    If one member performed his role poorly, you either assigned them the wrong role, didn't test them under pressure, or didn't adequately prepare them.

    If a particular play resulted directly in a loss, it's your fault for allowing such a close contest. When you're winning 9-0, one lost cap means nothing. Lack of preparation, lack of skill development, a poor strategy, or poor team chemistry: they can always be traced to you.

    If people didn't meet your expectations, an assessment is needed – not ego-boosting blame games.

    • You cannot, for whatever reason, command respect.
    “Respect” is overused. You don't truly respect someone because of their e-reputation, their forums presence, or their perceived personality, do you? You shouldn't. People earn respect through their behaviour in trying times. Such occasions arise even in online games, and over time, through a number of such occasions, your members will come to respect you. If you maintain your calm, make equitable decisions, play well, and are a good friend, you will earn respect.

    If you cannot command such qualities, you will eventually lose your team.

    • You aren't good with people.
    Surprise. As with any social activity, being a leader requires people skills. Should your members respect you, you'll find many share their frustrations or come for advice. Pay them mind – these are your friends, after all. You'll also find that altercations arise between members. Deal with them. Often, that involves simply relaying their frustrations to each other, but regardless, solve these problems – they only intensify over time.

    • And, finally, R.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
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  2. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Recruitment

    A strong team requires thoughtful, deliberate recruitment. Too often, this aspect of captaincy is neglected, resulting in a hodge-podge of conflicting personalities and skill levels. Your members are your team: choose them poorly, and your team will crumble.

    You are going to have an easier time recruiting if you and any existing members are highly skilled. Or rather, you will have access to stronger potential players. Before friendship and comraderie, it's simple fact that most players are interested in clans whose skill levels meet or exceed their own. For this reason, I suggest not recruiting until your core members are competent.

    When recruiting, ensure existing, skilled members are “in uniform”. Remember Legions from way back, before clan tags were implemented? Remember all the Omnis? Exactly. That was the simple reason I asked all members to sport Omni tags: highly-skilled members in uniform force attention toward their team. A bunch of randoms at the top of the score charts isn't as impressive as a single team populating the upper echelons. Before you can recruit someone, you have to catch their attention. You have to impress them.

    As for the actual recruitment process, there are two factors that I consider: Personality and Potential.

    Personality

    Personality's important for two reasons, the first of which is simple: you are going to be spending significant amounts of time with your members. You want to enjoy their company, and you want members to enjoy each other's company. You're essentially selecting friends. Online gaming's great in that your friends aren't (as) limited by geography, jobs, or social class, so take advantage and choose them wisely.

    The second reason has to do with “potential”, which we'll cover shortly. For now, understand that certain personalities contribute to skill development, while others have the opposite effect. Specifically, people driven toward improvement tend to do best in games. Realize, though, that the impetus behind their drive can vary: one person might enjoy improvement for improvement's sake, while another may simply hate losing. As long as someone's personality promotes improvement and friendship, it'll be an asset.

    Make sure too that you're recruiting people whose personalities and perspectives mesh with those of existing members. Even if someone is pleasant, they might not be compatible. Daphinicus, I trust you'll not mind if I use you as today's example:

    One of the few rules within Omniscient is to avoid, at all times, being a jackass to either new or poor players. That means easing up on them in-game, no verbal abuse, and no complaining. We've no such rule, however, when it comes to dealing with jackasses. Many Omni feel that people should speak more plainly, and that jerks are too often given quarter. If our members are less-than-pleasant with you, it's because we think you're a douche. We will not hesitate to respond in kind, or to let you know our opinions.

    Daphinicus believes that such behaviour betrays base levels of humanity. His perspective demands that each personality, no matter how acerbic, be met with pleasant and proper responses . . . And his incessant insistence in this matter means that these beliefs are canonical to his person, either actual, perceived, or striven-toward.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with his beliefs, and though I find them naive, I'm sure he finds me unnecessarily abrasive. However, his personality would likely clash with those of myself and my members. Eventually, that would cause drama; and as a team leader, you don't want (no) drama.

    That isn't to say, though, that strong teams demand homogeniety. While outsiders don't experience it, the range of personalities, beliefs, and professions within Omniscient is vast. A christian on a team of athiests is only a problem if people are unwilling to accommodate.

    Assessing Personality

    The internet's a better personality metric than is often believed. A person's behaviour sans restraints is indicative of their actual personality, so to speak – one unfettered by social norms and regulations. Take careful stock of a candidate's forum posts, IRC chats, and in-game behaviour, especially in adverse conditions. Eventually, you'll want to invite the person onto voice; from there, it's simple human interaction. If you and your members like them, great – if not, don't pursue the matter.

    Potential

    Potential is a summative term that describes the heights a player might reach. Potential is less about game-specific knowledge, and more about inherent abilities. OmniShade's recruitment provides a(n Optimus DO YOU SEE IT ALA?!) prime illustration.

    I was pubbing when a newbie recognized the Omni tag and asked to duel. After 10 minutes, he thanked me for my time and conceded he didn't yet possess skill enough to challenge me; he mentioned another player though – an “unknow_ghost” – and recommended that I recruit him. He thought that this player could, with some training, reach our level. I didn't quite believe him, though I spread word amongst our members, just in case. Eventually, someone spotted unknow_ghost in a server and I hopped in to a pleasant surprise: a solid player with an excellent attitude and a lot of potential. When he asked what to improve, I told him “CG and MA's”.

    Two weeks later, Shade had done just that, and was invited onto vent.

    Confusing potential with knowledge and experience (or ignoring it outright) can cause problems for captains. Recruiters often look toward established veterans when composing their teams. These players are appealing, with their reputations and experience, but they've their downsides. Because of their knowledge, it's easy to overestimate their actual abilities. There can be a sense of entitlement. They're probably playing for someone already. And they often stagnate, content with their skillset and their position in the community hierarchy.

    They're the hot chick in your psychology class. They're probably dating someone already, so you have to decide whether to intervene. And is their vapid personality worth the effort? Are you prepared for surprises when she's stripped of makeup? Of course, many hotties are intelligent, interesting people, just as many Legions vets ar . . . just as some Legions vets are skilled players with pleasant personalities. The takeaway is to avoid overlooking players with potential.
     
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  3. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Assessing Potential

    When assessing potential, I'm interested in:
    -reaction time
    -how much simultaneous information their minds can process
    -twitching ability
    -analytical ability
    -learning rapidity
    -tracking ability
    -spatial awareness
    -emotional control
    -perseverance
    -imagination

    While this list may seem extensive, assessments don't take too long. Emotional control's easily tested by beating someone repeatedly; analytical ability and learning rapidity are revealed through their actions during numerous duels; reaction time and tracking ability are apparent through CG skill (assuming a middle-to-high ping – the higher your ping, the faster need be your reaction times); and twitching ability through certain MA shots. One particularly telling measure of reaction time and twitch involves MA recovery time. If you've ever MA'd someone slightly before their shot, you've probably noticed their resulting effort goes way wide, sent askew by knockback. The best FPS players, though, are able to adjust in an instant, negating the knockback. This ability is rare enough that should someone show it, they're immediately on my radar.

    I assess abilities almost exclusively with dueling. I am not interested in their flag awareness, or in their capping abilities. Their body blocks are secondary, as is their chasing, their flag tossing, and their HoFing. And by dueling, I don't mean pansying around obstacles: straight-out shooting is all-telling when it comes to the aforementioned abilities. In fact, Tribes-specific skills don't matter an ounce to my assessments. This belief is tantamount to treason in a Tribes community, but given my team's reputation, I trust you'll hear me out.

    My reasoning is simple: We can teach a great duelist to cap (greatly? With greatness?), but great cappers can't necessarily become great duelists. Capping and other Tribes-specific skills are very learnable. They are, by and large, rote. On the other hand, dueling is spontaneity, demanding quickness of mind and hand. When Omniscient competes in new games, your ability to run memorized Legions routes won't be useful; your shooting ability, though . . . that's different. Even when we're not playing shooters, the rapidity of thought encouraged by fast-paced FPS' provides an advantage. I am interested in members whose minds support that rapidity of thought, not in members whose abilities are limited to their chosen game.

    When entering a new game, Omniscient members have a week to get pro. Or they're cut. (Not really. But yes really for any members who might be reading)

    Assessing someone's skills takes more than the occasional pub sighting. One of the biggest mistakes made by captains (and community members in general) is assessment without adequate information – opinions formed around infrequent in-game encounters. Pubs, pugs, and even competitive games rarely convey relevant evaluation information, what with players focused on caps, returns, distraction, etc., etc. Remember: people aren't always playing to impress. To ascertain skill and potential accurately, you must duel someone over the course of several maps.

    Why several maps? Well, several reasons:


    1. Simple statistics. The probability that a fair coin lands tails when flipped is 50%. If you were to flip said coin ten times, having it land tails 7-10 times wouldn't be unlikely. Flip it ten thousand times, though, and you'll (almost) certainly see that 50% probability. Simply put, the more you fight, the less likely flukes will affect final tallies.

    2. Big-name syndrome. Names carry weight, especially in smaller communities. I first noticed this effect in Planetside, where I was an “ace” pilot. Enemies would engage and do well until breaching “name-display range”, whereupon their aim and shots became spastic, panicked. Similarly, were I dueling under “OmniNept”, you'd almost certainly experience nervousness; under an alias, not so much. The effects that these expectations exert on performance are enormous. When assessing, you want to remove them from the equation, for while it could be argued that they reveal emotional lability, their more immediate outcome is the obfuscation of skill. After dueling someone for several maps, you'll notice their name isn't quite so important.

    3. The longer you play against someone, the better you understand their personality/emotional control.

    4. Sometimes people need to warm up. I rarely go “all out” in pubs because I'm there to have fun, so transitioning to fighting players against whom I have to try takes some time. This may seem egotistical, but it's not: challenges cause upwellings of skill; even within Omni ranks, few force my best. You want to force their best, and you want to ensure you've given them time aplenty.
    Now be aware that dueling people for lengthy periods can result in their adjusting to your play style, which doesn't necessarily indicate shooting skill (although it certainly indicates adaptability). Alter your movement and your classes to counteract this effect.

    Omniscient's recruitment process isn't a set series of steps over a particular period of time. We have no tryouts, no “rush” program, and no formal ranks; while there do exist various leadership levels within the clan, they are informal and earned through respect, ability, and dedication. We've recruited individuals over a period of days, and over a period of years. We've recruited “the best of the best”, and we've recruited “nobodies” who became the best of the best. If you're to take anything away from this section, it should be this:

    Recruitment is important. Don't squander spots and don't be blinded to potential. And always investigate the person behind the name.
     
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  4. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Reserved
     
    Dino, Bestking, IzSid and 5 others like this.
  5. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Reserved
     
    Dino, Bestking, IzSid and 5 others like this.
  6. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Reserved
     
    Dino, Bestking, IzSid and 5 others like this.
  7. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    That should be good.
     
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  8. only1Bravo

    only1Bravo Private Tester

    Is this how Omni spends its Saturday nights?
     
    Dino and Dacil like this.
  9. Dacil

    Dacil Member

    WOO looks like we've got something good going ;) omni may meet another match!!

    Edit 1 & 2: I've read alot of parts so far and I'm likin it....and has some real good laughs!

    Edit 3: well just finished it...good job on this Nept, I think it provides a good understanding of what leadership should be about and then some....and even some insight into what it is to be a good member actually...so I'm gonna take away some of this for my own good as a member...and again good job!
    omg...so they do do that..proof! sigh
     
  10. OmniNept

    OmniNept Actionaut

    Only when your mom's fatigued.
     
    FingeredChocolate, Hi!, Dino and 13 others like this.
  11. Sin

    Sin Private Tester

    Read it all, twice. Nept, thanks a million. ET just transitioned leadership of it's legions division to Unexistent and myself a couple weeks ago, so this was extremely helpful.
    A quick question, how did you guys run practices? I'm running them mostly, and I've got a couple drills we do, but I'm not really so sure on how I lead during them.
     
  12. Heartsong

    Heartsong Member

    Nept allowed the extra reserved spaces to expand on his post to include a few more topics. He wanted me to let you know that practices will be one of those topics.

    But, really, he just makes us play Unreal Tournament and yells "DODGE!" a lot.
     
    BeStKiNg, Redvan, Skepsis and 2 others like this.
  13. Jordahan

    Jordahan World Leader of The 21st Century

    Oh sweet Jesus... I'll read this when I'm not doing anything for the entire afternoon
     
  14. only1Bravo

    only1Bravo Private Tester

    That would explain your posts. Proceed.
     
  15. tiffany2lou

    tiffany2lou New Member

    ... I feel like a dummy reading this. So much to read.
     
    JedrekPl likes this.
  16. Disci

    Disci Old man

    Interesting read. Thanks for you contribution.
     
  17. LumpySausage

    LumpySausage Member

    I never read and took understanding from such a long detail which ever took me 10 minutes. School should be like this.
     
  18. NightHawk043

    NightHawk043 Member

    Thanks for that Nept, it's not every day someone takes such time to write such a detailed post (trilogy perhaps?)
    Very insightful, engaging to read, and oh so true.

    I just wish there were more Australians in legions, so I could start another clan and improve my leadership ability.
     
  19. 57thRomance

    57thRomance Member

    Good read. Definitely something worth having its own "For Dummies" cover. :cool:
     
    FingeredChocolate likes this.
  20. Immanent

    Immanent Member

    This is probably why team Omniscient stands out amongst one of the best so called "duelling" clan out there in leejunz, lead by Nept :)
    Nice post, looking forward to more.