Lessons from the Virtual World #2
by, 05-14-2013 at 03:10 PM (308 Views)
LESSONS FROM THE GAMING WORLD by Jeon Rezvani (Edited by Isaiha)
Article #2: VISION
What is the role of vision as it pertains to leadership? How do you make a vision compelling? What is inspirational? This article will address these and other questions regarding vision and leadership.
Start with your Guild Statue
I've been somewhat competitive my entire life. Competition is fun, and I'm clearly motivated by achievement. The multiplayer online gaming world was no different for me. I marveled at the players on top of the scoreboards: the wealthiest; the highest character level; the most accolades. I wasn't interested in basketball players, movie stars, or astronauts. I craved hearing the histories of the game from the most erudite players. I mined gaming forums religiously to delve deeper into the lore. Who was first to brave the lair of the dragon? Even better, who was the first to defeat her? Who traveled the farthest into the dungeons?
Like these high end players succeeding in all of these achievements and leaving behind a legacy, as a leader, it all starts with asking yourself, "What do you want to leave behind once you are gone?" Don't pass "go" until you figure that out. Start with an end state that is almost unachievable. Once you have that vision, passionately communicate it over and over. As you plan your daily and weekly activities, always ask yourself - how is this bringing you closer to realizing your vision? One area where I have personally struggled to improve is in communicating the vision. I'll mention it but not drill it in. I always have a vision in the back of my head, but I don't spend the effort to make it known.
Newer and less mature guilds often tend to lack vision. They organize loosely and accomplish little. This is not a bad thing in itself - it is simply how they choose to play the game. Over time, if they last, they tend to develop a more strategic outlook - they think farther down the road and create plans for how they want to get there. They start creating goals for themselves (perhaps as part of an overarching vision of what they want to become), and they begin to organize their day-to-day actions to be in alignment with their goals. Companies (and other associations of people) tend to follow the same evolutionary maturity. The better they get at aligning their day-to-day activities with their strategic goals, the more they prosper and the faster they proceed towards their vision.
Mature guilds do not lack vision - they create charters, policies, manifestos, bylaws, constitutions, organizational structures, functional departments, etc. They establish and maintain their own knowledge management systems. They usually have their own public and private forums with varying levels of authorization based on role. The ambitious guilds have laser sharp focus on who they are and what they want to accomplish. Some guilds are more social, accepting of anyone, and laid back. Others are hard-core, expecting huge commitments from their members.
Often in the real world, people do not understand the company's strategic goals,. This is often due to a lack of communication or the inability to understand what the vision is trying to accomplish or why it is a business strategy. One of the benefits of the online gaming world is that most people can quickly grasp the vision because of the shared context. Understanding and internalizing the vision generally means that it can more easily be realized.
Construct a Vision that is Inspiring
Guilds that have strong visions for what they want to become are led by individuals who understand the importance of strategic planning. They realize that vision statements also serve as a way to recruit like-minded individuals, as well as a way to identify candidates that do not align with their long-term goals. Some guild leaders might not think that they even have a vision for their guild - but, if pressed, they generally are able to articulate what behaviors and beliefs they subscribe to and what their long-term goals are; i.e., they know where they want to go and where they "see" themselves being; they simply have not formally articulated it. Mission statements are similar - guild leaders might elect not to formulate a mission statement, as such. They are, however, quite confident that they know what needs to be done to accomplish the goals of their guilds. If vision is the where, mission is the how. Vision also should be both tangible and time-boxed.
Focus not only on becoming the best that we can be as a group, but also focus on making the gaming community and other guilds more prosperous. Go for win/win. It would entail aligning with others who perceive that vision as exciting and rewarding. I have always found it rewarding to help others, but I have tended to keep the best strategies and knowledge for my guild so that they would prosper the most.
Put some thought into constructing a compelling vision that inspires your people on the front line to do a great job. It needs to be a vision that makes your customers excited. Only by inspiring your teams and your customers can you truly succeed over the long term.
Any Vision Can Come Across Compelling
The delivery of the vision statement can be a mechanism for making a vision more compelling. The method by which the vision is shared can be inspiring and compelling. Professional writers often are hired to construct elaborate histories about an online game's universe. Writers create themes, plots, conflicts, and, ultimately, stories that develop and describe the back-story of the game. The writer attempts to evoke a compelling setting in order to immerse players into the game's world. This ranges from stories about the Gods that inhabit the world to the great battles which shape the continents to rumors of artifacts that lie in the darkest lairs of the deepest dungeons.
Game histories that elicit some sort of emotional reaction in the reader are compelling. Think of what trial lawyers are capable of when persuading jurors. What are trial lawyers other than master storytellers? They must capture the attention of the juror and lead him emotionally. Movies are the same way - they tend to impact you when they make you feel something. That is not to say that anything which evokes emotion will be compelling or inspirational. however, it can be a good place to start.
Deliver the vision statement with a compelling story in order to evoke emotion from the audience. Invest the time necessary to identify actual incidents which support your vision. Leverage stories that writers utilize in onilne RPG's to make environments more immersive, which is to deliver content with compelling stories. Deliver the vision and positively influence the audience.
Vision, Positive Attitude, and Results are Inspiring
Vision should be an inspiring force that is seen as the preferred future. It should answer the question "what are we trying to achieve?" It should be an energizing and focusing concept which pushes the guild to greater performance and effectiveness. One aspect of our performance that will determine whether we achieve our vision is Attitude. Guilds live and die on attitude. Attitude seems to determine results in online games. The same experience either inflates or deflates the guild, depending on attitude. The positive leader praises people's contributions in all situations, rather than lamenting problems or placing blame. This directly affects people's morale. I've seen it in chat rooms many times. People can be annoyed about something - anything. The uplifting leader can turn the tide of negativity into hope for a better future. He is able to inspire everyone around him.
Attitude is also a key part of the influence equation. The best way to change a person's behavior concerning something is to change his attitude towards that something. Instead of focusing on trying to control a person, focus on influencing his/her attitude. I have witnessed that those guild leaders who have a positive attitude tend to influence results more frequently. Guild leaders know that instead of location, location, location, it's attitude, attitude, attitude.
Attitude goes beyond the guild leader. Those having negative attitudes according to experience seem to suffer from a higher likelihood of depression and stress. They seemed to stay home from work/school/etc. more often, due to being ill or simply unable to function. I'm not talking about debilitating permanent illness - I simply mean that the frequency with which they caught colds or other minor discomforts seemed higher. Positive attitude can be pervasive - the problem is that negative attitude can, too. And the guild leader who generally has the most influence is the one with the greatest ability to affect everyone by his attitude. Attitude affects morale. It affects teamwork. It affects retention. It ultimately affects bottom line results that guilds are trying to achieve.
A positive and confident guild leader is inspiring. The bleaker the scenario looks, the more important it is for the guild leader to be optimistic. Again, this does not mean to misrepresent the situation or to pretend that everything is wonderful. But, the leader must have enough confidence in himself and his people to realize and to project that they will succeed in the long run. Ultimately, to succeed in achieving their vision. This why vision, positive attitude, and results are inspiring.