Leadership in the Brotherhood requires a delicate combination of creativity, dedication and commitment. Many leadership duties are covered elsewhere in various courses, but this course will attempt to provide further tools to assist with leadership, and more specifically, management.
Only experience can truly teach you how to be a competent leader, but hopefully you’ll gain some additional ideas and skills that can help continue your development.
To begin, it’s useful to understand what leadership in our organization actually is. Firstly, a leadership position is one of responsibility. By applying for and receiving a leadership position, you make yourself responsible to the unit or organization and the members. You take on personal responsibility for ensuring that the members are having an enjoyable experience, and put yourself in their service.
Secondly, leadership entails commitment. Although circumstances often conspire against us, you should endeavor to be able to hold your position for an extended period of time - usually the longer the better. If you know of a major time constraint in real life, now or in the near future, then you should think twice about applying for a leadership position. At the very least, you should discuss it with whomever you’re applying to.
Finally, leadership requires good communication skills. As a leader, you will be expected to liaise with long-standing and new members of your House/Clan, and other House/Clan leaders. You should be able to form opinions and give them without causing offense. You should be approachable and able to solve problems, and you should be able to help mediate if necessary.
In most cases you’re not simply handed a position of leadership within the Brotherhood. Much like in the real world, when positions are open there will be a call for applications with the position’s prerequisites. Position announcements are normally posted to the news page of the Brotherhood website, mentioned in a report, mentioned in Clan chat rooms, and/or emailed out via a unit’s mailing list (usually all of the above). Once you know that applications are being accepted (and ensure you meet the requirements), you’re faced with the question: what should you include and what happens next?
A Note on Applications:
This is definitely something you need to check: If your application has misspellings, horrible grammar, or simply looks bad, you might as well forget about the position. Have a friend proofread your application before you send it in. And don't forget to run that spellchecker!
You’ve applied for the position and, congratulations, you’ve been chosen! Now what? Sometimes, the size of a job won't hit you until it's yours and you're expected to know what to do. You may feel that you've been thrown into a pool of sharks to sink or swim. This section of the course offers some guidelines and suggestions for what a good leader does in their position.
First and foremost, don't panic. Everyone who has been or is a leader in the Brotherhood has probably felt overwhelmed at times. Remember that you're not alone - you're more than welcome to ask other leaders for assistance, if necessary.
Second, be active. There's a lot to do in your first few days as a newly appointed leader. Plus, your members are watching you closely right now because even if you're a long-time member of the group, your members may not know your leadership style and will want to feel you out. The best impression is that of a person who is confident, competent, and capable, and the best way to seem like such a person (even if you don’t feel like it at the moment!) is to be active and visible in your first few days.
Moving on from general guidelines, what specifically do you do now? The first thing you should do is email everyone you are now responsible for (Discourse, Telegram and any other platform used by your unit are also acceptable, though email should be done regardless). Introduce yourself, give a little background information, and open the door for any possible queries your members may have. Also take the time to outline a few key points such as how you intend to handle promotions, competitions, activity, etc. Of note for e-mails, it is recommended - though not required - to send one-on-one e-mails to your members. Personalize your correspondence for the member in question, and make them know that you care about their well-being in the club. We are all a part of the same community, and sometimes all it takes to get a member talking is a reminder that we care about them.
Next, make sure your report is in on time. Most positions require a report once a month, so perhaps pick a day of the month that is fairly easy to remember and always try to get your report out on that day or as close to it as possible! Also spend your first week in office planning some form of competition. These first few days allow you to set the tone for the entire rest of your tenure.
Finally, although the unit is yours to command, you should make sure to handle major changes carefully; consult with members and the leaders above you before making final decisions and keep their concerns in mind. Don't forget that it is your members who will make or break your plans, so remember to include them and not to override their wishes. Also, answer any and all questions your members have as quickly as you can.
Likely one of the most important things to understand about serving as a leader in the DJB is that we are a fan-based organization comprised of and led by volunteers. Members join the club for recreation; leaders make a commitment to help those members enjoy their time and grow within the club. With that said, how do you motivate a group of online volunteers?
When posed with that question, many would say through awards and promotions. Although those are excellent motivators, they are not the only options. There will be times when a member must wait for a promotion or award due to time-in-grade requirements or because a project has not yet been completed. In these and other situations, a simple “thank you” can go a long way towards making someone feel appreciated. Another possible motivator is to assign responsibility for an important project to an eager member, especially if that member is looking to move into leadership in the future.
Sometimes members will disappear suddenly, even if they have been very motivated and active in the past. There is an automated AWOL (“Absence Without Leave”) check that results in the removal of inactive members, but before it takes place it is important to try to establish contact with such people. Their absence may be the result of a temporary problem, like a hectic work or school schedule, which may disappear in a relatively short period of time. Reach out and ask what is going on and assure a member that he or she is welcome to return to active service at any suitable time. However, you should be careful not to press too much: always remember that your members are less likely to return to active duty if they feel pressured to do so.
Besides motivating your members, you need to be able to motivate yourself as well. A leader who is not eager and self-motivated enough to fully dedicate themselves to their tasks is likely to discourage their members regardless of what they say to them. A good leader leads by example, inspiring their members to try and live up to the ideal. For this to work, you need to be certain, confident, and highly motivated yourself.
There is also a risk that with the course of time, one may burn out and lose the drive to continue their work. Burned-out leaders tend to have their performance as a leader noticeably suffer. Leaders suffering from burnout are just going through the motions and must consider resigning for three reasons: first, burnout can spread through a unit as other leaders and members fall into complacency; second, a burnt out leader may grow disgruntled, negatively impacting the mood of the unit; third, a burnt out leader is keeping a valuable and rare leadership position occupied when there are likely to be a number of eager, less-experienced candidates who could make a positive impact and advance their careers.
The same is true for leaders who lack the time to carry out their duties. It is not a shame to resign when you cannot continue to satisfy the requirements of your post. Again, the Brotherhood is an all-volunteer organization. It thrives on the vitality and energy of its active members, and inactive or overly time-constrained leaders take away from that vitality. A little time off from leadership or a short break from the club can be a very effective way to recharge.
It is also important to set yourself goals. Create a series of specific, measurable, achievable and relevant goals. You will sometimes even be asked to create a set of goals when applying for a leadership position to show what sort of things you feel need to be worked on if you are picked for the position. If possible, leaders should find ways to measure progress towards their goals in objective ways. For instance, a new Consul may hope to increase member recruitment and retention. That goal could be measured by comparing the number of new recruits to the Clan that have joined and stayed active after a certain amount of time has passed compared to the same metrics under the previous Consul. Goals are important because they provide a sense of direction; specific and measurable goals allow you to not only provide a direction to your team but to quantify your success or failure to achieve that direction, which can help you to craft better solutions in the future.
However, don’t forget that you have a unit full of eager members! Delegation allows leaders to share the development and management of their units with members who have an interest in exploring aspects of leadership. As long as a leader is not delegating just to avoid work while retaining the power and prestige of office, delegation is a perfectly acceptable and common - even encouraged - practice. Delegation is also important to the health of the Brotherhood overall, as it allows you to directly assist in training the next generation of leaders. However, as the leader delegating, you need to remember you are ultimately responsible for the finished product!
Likely the most important thing that a good leader does in our organization is communicate effectively. We cannot function without communication as literally every other aspect of leading in the Brotherhood is contingent on communicating.
Communication is the best way to resolve most issues that might arise with your members. Though we are a club of volunteers who come together to have fun, conflict will still sometimes occur. As a leader it will sometimes fall to you to step in and mediate disputes. If you do so, always ensure you’re being fair and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. Remember that other leaders can assist you with this if you feel unable or uncomfortable, and that the Justicar and his staff are always available as well.
Perhaps the most important communication you can send is to a new member. When a recruit joins the Brotherhood, completes the Trial of Identity, and is assigned to your unit, you should always take the time to send a person welcome, even if you have a Rollmaster or other leader assigned to that task. Keep it short and simple, but make it meaningful.
Remember that even the best leaders should not rest on their laurels. Running an excellent unit requires constantly innovating and pushing forward, as complacency is just as much a threat as burnout to the perfect functioning of any unit in the Brotherhood. In order to do so, you must first understand where the strengths and weaknesses of your unit lie; then, it might be helpful to look outside your unit for ideas to address those weaknesses; and finally, you should strive to constantly improve your unit. This section of the course should help you in all three of those areas.
To know where the strengths of your unit are, while also knowing where you need to focus for improvement, engaging in regular and systematic analysis can be helpful. Doing so can make a leader more aware of the state of the unit and brewing issues that could require his or her personal attention. This sometimes takes the form of a discussion among the leadership group - your fellow members of the House or Clan Summit, for instance. This sort of discussion tends to be a fairly informal unit analysis.
Analyzing an organization can be done in numerous ways, with no set parameters or specifics. Unit or organizational analysis is always circumstantial, and your analysis will be determined by the issue at hand. For example, if you’re attempting to increase activity in future competitions or events within a Clan, try to formulate a method that could potentially provide you information as to the cause of the current activity. If you can determine why members are not as active as the previous quarter, then you can develop a solution for the future.
No set method of organizational analysis exists within the Brotherhood, but it is highly recommended that leaders do their own research, and remember that analysis is always circumstantial. You can use the same method for different situations, or different methods to tackle the same problems. Just be knowledgeable of your method, knowledgeable of your organization, and focused on the issue you wish to tackle.
No matter the format used, you will notice needs that your unit has that must be met. It can be useful to reach out to others in order to solve whatever issues you discover through a process called benchmarking. Benchmarking follows a simple principle: always learn from the best. When you use benchmarking, you are seeking the best solutions already available on the “market.” Different types of benchmarking are used in the real world, but for our purposes we can define benchmarking quite simply as going outside your unit to gain understanding and knowledge: how are others in a similar position to you doing things, and how can you adapt what works well for others to your unit? If you’re a new Rollmaster, for instance, you should reach out to other Rollmasters for tips and tricks.
Wholesale, unattributed theft of ideas is obviously wrong, but borrowing ideas from others and incorporating your own ideas into them is what allows us to learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. Some solutions will simply not work for you due to factors that are unique to a particular unit. Instead, see about making it your own, improving it, and altering the parameters to best suit the needs of the unit you serve.
Every unit requires constant development if it is to stay competitive and attractive for its current and future members. Unit development is multifaceted and includes: unit lore, recruitment, member support, and events.
As a leader, make sure to keep an eye on each of these fields and keep the unit moving forwards. Do not cling to the past for the sake of tradition, but instead look at existing projects and policies with a critical eye.
As stated earlier, good leaders sets goals for themselves and their units. Sometimes, these goals revolve around projects and big changes they wish to implement that will take time - creating a spreadsheet of all of your unit’s Wiki articles in order to audit them, for example, or creating a new Master/Student Program. Briefly, let us discuss some suggestions for successful project management:
It is important to properly reward those members who have devoted time to help improve the unit via project work. Small projects or supporting roles on projects are best awarded with lower-tier merit medals such as the Dark Cross or the Anteian Cross. Larger participation in a project or even running a medium to large project may be rewarded with a Steel Cross or Grand Cross of the Dark Side.
In some cases, a project is so vast, or affects the Club in such a profound manner that sacramental awards are appropriate. The Consul or Quaestor of an independent unit is able to award up to a Sapphire Blade. The Master at Arms will advise you on what award is appropriate for a given project. For a more detailed look at awards, refer to the related Leadership Rewards Course on how to reward your members.
Hopefully, this brief course has given you a solid basis of knowledge on how to lead a unit. However, true leadership cannot be learned from course notes; it must come from day-to-day service to a unit and the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.
This course was developed from a number of sources, including the previous Leadership Studies SA course and original material written by Xantros. Further material was created by Laren Uscot and Farrin Xies.
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