A Failing of Leadership


11-01-2006 23:33:18


Leaders have numerous tasks in our club, from motivating members, to creating competitions, and writing reports, but one such task seems to get completely overlooked to the detriment of every House and Clan, and indeed the Brotherhood as a whole – training a replacement.

How often do we see a leader suddenly resign – just *poof*, they’re gone – and no one is ready to step up? Or more often, a Quaestor or Consul will use their Aedile or Proconsul as slaves to complete mundane tasks such as AWOL checks, while never giving them any practical instruction? How is an AED supposed to know how to lead a House if all he has done is collected emails? How is a House supposed to replace a veteran Quaestor when he suddenly disappears? Is everyone just expected to know how to run a House? Should the DB be expected to have a vast pool of qualified leaders ready to jump into any position?

This is a failure at every level – from battle team leaders to the Dark Council itself. How many Councilors have we seen basically go AWOL or do the bare minimum to keep their jobs? How many have left fully trained replacements when they departed? If we are going to have stable leadership, it has to start at the head of our organization; the Council has to set an example! Sure, real life can intrude and make it necessary for leaders to depart – but does that excuse their leaving a untrained assistant to take the reigns? No.

This phenomenon has two causes – hubris and laziness.

A Consul wants his Clan to respect him for all the great improvements he’s made to the Clan. A Councilor wants to be liked for making his niche the most successful. Neither wants to share their efforts with a subordinate. Training your assistant to eventually replace you requires you to share the work and the responsibility of the office, so the newer leader actually feels what it is like and gains the real experience. Naturally this means the unit will look upon both leaders as the source of the reform, and that is a good thing! Our pride can keep us from doing our best; we have to rein it in if we truly want to reach our highest potential.

The more unfortunate situation is the Quaestor who leads his House but doesn’t want to put forth the effort to train (or often even use!) his Aedile. These Aediles are the lifeblood of our organization! They are the Consuls and Grand Masters of the future! They are ready to be molded, to be initiated into the leadership path – but they are also the most easily lost. If appointed and then left to their own devices, most will wander aimlessly, with no leadership experience to guide them. They will sit as a placeholder on the roster, never accomplishing anything, never learning how to step up. Whose fault is that? Yes, the Aedile could put forth incredible efforts and probably do a few things himself – but if he serves an experienced Quaestor who cannot be bothered to teach him the way, then that Quaestor is doing his House, Clan, and the Brotherhood a tremendous disservice. This is basically abandoning your post when your unit needs you most – in the military that gets you shot or removed, in the DB it gets you a nice going-away award.

This is a call to the Brotherhood’s leaders – do not neglect the next generation of our club! Treat your assistants as your equals, show them how to do the job, and they will continue your proud tradition for years to come.

If you keep ignoring your assistants, persist in your hubris, and continue to show your laziness then the quality of our leaders will continue to decline until we are a shadow of the organization we are now.

Our leaders who fail to train replacements are failures themsevles.


Tarax Kor

12-01-2006 01:27:40

Uh. Who are you?


12-01-2006 01:56:10

Wow, someone who feels they have put in the time and experience in this club to make such a post.....and they just joined. Course they could be someone else going under an alias for fear of reprisal. Personally I think something like this should have been mailed to the leaders instead of posted on the forum. I know Jac and Kir, hell I consider Kir a good friend having served under him in Taldryan for a long time, I know for a fact they welcome such a constructive critic on the ability of our leaders.

I've seen 3 years come and go in this wonderful club and without a doubt I can say that we have some of the best members leading this club right now. And for the not training a replacement....uh what do you think preators and magistrates do, twiddle their respective thumbs? Granted some leaders only use their help for certain tasks but Jac is encouraging the leaders to get their magistrates and preators familiar with the job in case something unforseen happens. PCONs and AEDs help facilitate communication between the leadership and the clan/house members, its unavoidable for them to not learn the ins and outs of running a clan/house. Ok...someone else want to bring some knowledge to this young pup before he stuffs his foot in his mouth again, amusing but unproductive.


12-01-2006 06:44:34

Shaithis is right. whenever a Consulor a Quaestor steps down, the PCON and AED respectively have (from what I've seen) almost always been ready to step up and have performed admirably. There may be a couple of weeks where the leader adapts to their new responsibilities and the members adapt to the new style of leadership. Where problems can arise is when the PCON or the AED resign. It often takes time for people to step up and then when more than one person steps up there can be a wait during the selection process. Meantime many projects are left waiting in the wings. This often can't be helped, except by giving BTLs more hands-on responsibilities where possible.


12-01-2006 09:46:18

Yea...interesting. Shaithis I'm pretty sure you're onto something with the, "Course they could be someone else going under an alias for fear of reprisal." - this couldn't have been written by a n00b. Also Shaithis is correct in that Jac and myself are very open to comments and anyone can feel free to send us email whenever you would like.

But since the comments were made here I guess I should respond. Very basically I think 'Publius' has a point, albeit he/she may be a little dramatic here :P Leaders do often neglect to train their replacements, and I have seen it during my time at most levels in the DB. However on the flip side, many leaders do a great job of preparing their replacement before they leave. So in summary - yes its a problem, yes we should work on it, yes I just woke up and I'm tired.

So yea, comment away :P


12-01-2006 10:36:50

Interesting. Very interesting. Despite the original backlash of people against this post, I think our new poster has many valid points. He/she is certainly correct in saying that leaders who fails to train a replacement fails themsevles. The task of improving any club comes down to putting time and effort into the most important commodity that club has: its members. If we do not prepare the leaders of tomorrow how can we expect to grow and thrive as an organization.

Sure the post was a little dramatic, but that does not make it any less truthful.

Sith Bloodfyre

12-01-2006 11:00:36

A point was made. However, that point was made without all of the information available. The Dark Council, along with the respective Clan Summits, recognized this failing. We've seen several persons, and positions, fail due to inability, or simply a lack of training. Enter the leadership training manuals (sometimes known under the name of "Alacrity of the Commander," a project that received effort from many people, and is STILL receiving effort). This project was designed to create "position handbooks," so that incoming position-holders could have something to reference during their training.

In addition to that, we have active leaders who do more than their job to ensure the stability of things. Case in point, Kir being DGM and acting-Consul of Plagueis. He's working to make sure Plagueis gets taken care of, and gets quality leadership. He's also got one hell of a right hand man in DJM Sarin. I've known Sarin for a short time now, but I know him to be a decent, respectable man, and I believe Plagueis is in good hands. The only thing that would make me even more pleased is if they decided to rename it to Clan Bloodfyre. (Only joking. Unless you really want to name it Clan Bloodfyre. heh.)

I can also speak about myself. Recently, I had to skip out of being SHW. Why? Because I really need to pay attention to working toward paramedic school, and finishing up the fire academy over the course of this next year. It was a hasty decision, but one that Jac and Kir had some knowledge of for a while before. I even talked to Jac about training my replacement, but he said not to worry, that he could do it, that he had my position handbook, and that it would be taken care of. Cyris just departed in a similar manner, but again, there was no real need to worry. As Praetor, Muz was doing pretty much the same EXACT job that Cyris was doing, and was more than capable, and qualified to step up without any issues.

Are there issues in other positions, and/or Clans? Absolutely. Again, I think a very valid point was made. But there are examples for people to follow after, both on the Dark Council, and in the Clans themselves. Is ineffective leadership an issue, and a serious problem? You can bet the farm on that one. Is there anything being done about it? In some cases, but not all. What does that mean for the future of the Brotherhood? Well, in the case of Plagueis, it means that you can count on certain members of the Dark Council to step up when the need arises. If another Clan needs such assistance, I have no doubt that it will come.

Do Aediles need to be trained? Absolutely. If you're not getting specific training, watch your Quaestor, see what he/she does, and try to emulate. If that's not effective, take the initiative, and email your Quaestor, and ask to be trained. Not effective, or even possible? Email your Clan Summit, and lay out the situation. Still not having any effect? Email Jac and Kir. Should the training just come automatically, on the responsibility of those above you? Yes, but I can tell you, some Clans/Houses don't work that way, simply because they've utilized other methods, even if they're ineffective.

Blah blah, blah, blah blah, after five paragraphs, and needing to do homework, I'm done. Later.

Macron Sadow

12-01-2006 11:03:56

Hmm, an interesting topic. I feel that the onus is not entirely upon the leader. The aspiring AED or whatever also has the responsibility of paying attention to what their superiors are doing closely. This is learning, or profiting by the experience of another.
Otherwise, I think Publius has a point.

Andan Taldrya Marshall

12-01-2006 11:37:40

I can't speak for any of the other clans, but I've been with Taldryan for most of my six years in the club so I know how the system works for that clan. A few years ago when I got my first job as AED of Archanis I was there for about a week or two before my QUA's comp died and he had to resign, so I was thrown into a QUA position without much training before hand. However, Yacks was the PCON at the time and he helped me out in learning the ropes then I went on and (I'd like to think) handled everything very well. I used my AED for things like running small comps and after a while I had them deal with medals and promos for anyone in the house under a certain rank, GRD I think. Eventually when I retired they were ready to step up and take over for me.

The same thing still happens, to an extent. In Dinaari they use the BTL to train a JH in basic leadership and after a few months if he's done a good job he is promoted to DJK and retires and a new JH steps up. That creates a group of people who have some basic leadership training and can step in when there's an opening. One of the last people to be promoted via the BTL route is now the AED of the house.

Taldryan's Consul just announced his resignation yesterday, I can think of at least three people off the top of my head who are qualified to take over for him.


12-01-2006 17:13:56

I'm gonna go in a bit of a different direction with my response and lay a great deal of the responsibility at the feet of the up-and-coming leaders. As someone who is still relatively new, still learning the minuteia of how the Brotherhood works, and being in an important leadership position, I don't see it as the sole responsibility of my leaders to usher me into this new position. Quite the contrary, I think a great deal of that burden lies on me to go out and find what it is that i need to know.

When I first joined the DB I made a point to seek out and get to know some of the movers and shakers in the club. From House and Clan summits to DC members and staff, I took the initiative to get to know them and find out what they have learned from their experiences. I asked questions. Lots of questions. Sometimes to the point of probably asking too many questions, but my philosophy is that you will never know until you ask. I've had some great conversations and arguments with Shadow, Kir, Pyralis, Jac and Kaek just to name a few, but this would never have come about if I hadn't taken a chance and struck up a conversation.

I'm not at all saying that leaders shouldn't seek to train up those who will eventually replace them (if you take a look at the "great" leaders in the DB you will see that they are actually going this), but that if you are really an aspiring leader in the DB you will take that all-important initiative and learn by watching, interacting and asking questions with those already in positions of leadership.

Don't wait till you are already a BTL or AED to start figuring out how it is you would have done it if you were in charge. Think about the things you like and don't like about certain leaders in the DB. Emulate those you like and try not to be like those you don't like. It is never too early to start developing your own philosophy of leadership and have those basics down even before you have a chance to actually use them. Think ahead, and that learning curve you will have as a leader will be drastically lessened.


12-01-2006 23:07:49

I don't know who Publius is. I'm not sure I care. And, his "time in membership," quite frankly, is meaningless. I'm sure if I was forced to, I could sift through the DB's active roster and find people who have been around for 7 years and know nothing about how the DB really works. Who is to say their opinions are any more valid than his? Indeed... Anyhow.

The entire point of the endeavor to create leadership manuals and the series on "Alacrity of the Commander" has been to teach people about leadership in a more efficient, thorough manner. Let's face it - one guy who's been in the DB for a year simply can't convey and teach leadership to a new guy as well as several elders can through a well-informed, structured document. That's what these guides are - exhaustive command manuals that anyone can read and from which almost all leaders can gain - even if you're a DJM or a former GM. Things change in this club and odds are you aren't up to date with exactly how things work today unless you're keeping up somehow...

"QUA unexpectedly resigns and his n00b AED (who was taught nothing about command) has to replace him."

This is *exactly* what should NEVER happen in the DB. The leadership manuals have been constructed specifically to prevent such a scenario. It's a big project and it will take time.

The new AED is NOT supposed to sit around and learn how to do his former QUA's job all over again. Furthermore, he should certainly not have to learn how to do the job all on his own. While he attempts to do well at leadership, he's doing a disservice to his unit through his incompetence. Think of what the AED could do for his unit if he had actually been prepared to serve as QUA when his predecessor left. Then, he could immediately serve his unit with a strong background in leadership, providing for his member's needs. Furthermore, think of what the AED and former QUA could have done working together to serve their House. If two extremely well-informed, knowledgeable leaders work together to get something done, it's at least twice as good than if only one leader had been working on it.

Do most people know how to effectively work with their AED to get things done in a House? Absolutely not. In fact, this problem extends to CON/PCON pairs as well. It also extends to the Dark Council where a lot of people seem to be in their own little worlds instead of working as a cohesive unit that runs the DB.


What annoys me is that a lot of the replies to this thread have chosen to use information specifically designed to make it seem like things are perfect in the DB - and that Publius, here, dramatically exaggerated a problem that some don't even believe exists.

Not all of the team pairings look like Cyris and Muz. Muz's ability to step up and pwn Herald is the exception rather than the rule.

While things in the Brotherhood have improved considerably in the last couple years - especially with the creation of necessary infrastructure like the leadership manuals, things are far form perfect. Very often, I feel like the DB is doing a balancing act. When one leader resigns, I wonder who is going to come forth from the pool of members to fill the hole. It always seems like we *just* make do with what we have. However, it also seems like those desperate replacements were just one notch lower than their predecessors.

We need to start fixing that - not by trying to undo the accusations made by some guy like Publius, but rather by objectively reviewing our situation and seeing how we can improve aspects of this club.

Oh, and btw, I loved the example on “mundane tasks like AWOL checks” – so many people just don’t get it when it comes to AWOL checks. :-P


13-01-2006 21:47:07

I'm important, Jaysen? News to me. :P

If/whenever I get on the DC, I'm not training a replacement. So...nyah to this topic! Bwahahahaha :vail:


30-01-2006 11:52:03

Interesting post.

While I certainly agree with the points Publius has made I also have to say that by large he refers to problems that we have taken big steps to overcome during the past eighteen months. Like Pyralis said, things like the Alacrity of the Commander, the Leadership Manuals, and so on are being written to make it easier on new leaders when they take over.

In light of that I do feel the accusations, while valid concerns, are rather unfair. The Dark Council has just made a great effort in restructuring itself, an effort that cost some members their jobs and has made the remaining positions more taxing work wise. Being that I'm privy to a lot of the internal goings on in the Dark Council I can also confirm that its true to say people can't just sit in a position and waste away while they let someone else do all the work anymore. Perhaps people were encouraged to do that back before the Split when there was a whole array of retirement positions but the very nature of the Dark Council as it exists today requires every member to be fully active... if they're not people would notice. With three Order Leaders perhaps two could slack off, with the Gaming Tribune unless Korras does his job people will notice.

Moving to a Clan level, while I'm sure most of what was said was rather generalised, being a Consul I have to say I do find it rather harsh. Every appointment I make is done considering the greater scheme of things, right down to every BTL appointment. Its not simply a case of looking at the applications and deciding which is the best, its much, much more than that. Issues such as "what would happen if someone resigned suddenly and the new person had to move up sooner than expected?" and "is this person committed in the long run?" always come up. I've often turned down people for appointment, even when they might have been the "better" candidate, simply because I know full well they're the type who can't sustain more than a two month stretch of activity or always disappear in the summer months or something. If ever I appoint an Aedile there are questions like "if I dropped dead tomorrow and their Quaestor had to step up to Proconsul would this person be ready for Quaestor soon enough?" etc.

While I most certainly agree that leaders do need to be trained and can't simply be dropped into a position without any preparation I have to say the assumption that no training is ever given ahead of time is just quite simply wrong. Like Shaithis said: thats what Praetors, Magistrates, Aediles and Proconsuls are for. Perhaps this is where part of the problem arises because you see leaders delegating trivial tasks like AWOL checks and such to their assistants, however that is part of the training, if they did everything themselves there wouldn't be anything for the future leaders to get experience with doing, would there?

Its also one of the harsh realities a lot of people often don't seem to get until they do end up in a position: leadership isn't fun.

I have increasingly seen a number of people over the past year with the delusion that somehow being Quaestor, Consul or a Council member is all about fame and glory, people looking up to you, respecting you, wanting to be you... leadership is not. Leadership isn't even the correct word to be honest. What members of the Dark Council do is administration. The Consuls do a combination of administration and management. Its only really the Quaestors and to an even greater level, the BTLs who actually take their jobs seriously, who can be considering to be doing something that reflects a "leadership" position. The vast majorities of tasks that someone has to do get more mundane the higher up the ladder you get. BTL is fun. Quaestor less so. Consul even less so. Council member worse still. Grand Master worst of the lot. There are the odd exceptions, true, but take the majority of the Dark Council positions and they are not about "leadership" they are about spending a few hours every night clicking buttons and writing essays. Does anybody really think that Master-At-Arms, to take perhaps the best example, is "fun"? Reading through promotion and medal requests, and making the decisions that are either a mechanical approval or a rejection that will result in people hating you. Fun? Hardly.

Its called work. Not fun.

Going back to the point, I think this is while a lot of Aediles and Proconsuls grow disheartened, not because they aren't being trained, but because they didn't realise until it was too late that the job they wanted isn't all they expected it to be. Suddenly the thrills of running a House become e-mailing new members welcome letters, processing promotion requests, running competitions, dealng with AWOL members, and an assortment of other, at the end of the day, rather mundane tasks. They feel ignored as if their superior is just throwing them the boring tasks to do, which, while by large people do delegate the most tedious jobs, although that in itself builds perseverence and character, the truth is that these tedious and mundane tasks are the things the Aedile's or Proconsul's superior actually does, and that their job is much less thrilling than first expected. Its much better a potential Consul or Quaestor learns sooner rather than later that being Consul or Quaestor is about mundane and tedious tasks and not just power and glory, than get the position and suddenly realise "oh crap, this isn't as fun as I expected, I actually have to (god forbid) do some work!".

Leadership in the DB isn't like real-life where someone can stand up on the soap-box and give a rallying speech to their comrades to spur them into action. Unfortunately the internet doesn't work that way. E-mails don't convey emotion anywhere near as well as an oral presentation. The best Clans are the best because of the procedures they operate and the atmosphere of their members. Those Clans that depend upon their "leaders" are the ones that suffer in the long run. The strongest are the ones whose strengths are built on their member base upwards, not from a single Consular figurehead downwards. The Consul just runs the competitions, its the members that make the fun atmosphere that people want to get involved in.

Deviating a little bit, its also true that at times training up a direct replacement isn't always fair on those who didn't get the chance first time but have proven a better choice in the long run. This is where one of the most important features of being a successful "leader" in the DB comes in: initiative. Just because you aren't an Aedile or Quaestor means very little. Everyone can run competitions. Everyone can recommend other people for ranks and medals. Everyone can do more or less everything the "leaders" can. The only real difference is the leaders get in trouble if they don't do their jobs: everyone else gets praised if they do work they aren't required to do.

Someone who might only be considered a "good" leader may very well be seen as a "great" member if they just sat on the sidelines and helped motivate their House even when they weren't obliged to do so. You don't have to be in a position to get promoted, you just have to do more than play video games and post in run-ons.

Key phrase: show initiative. The people who go places in the DB are the one's who don't just give up because they got turned down for a position and decide not to bother doing anything until next time something opens up to apply for. If you really want to get far in the DB you have to prove you're up to the challenge even if you aren't getting anything out of it. The Aediles and Proconsuls who give up because "their job is boring" or "they aren't getting rewarded enough" are the ones that ultimately don't do well as Quaestor or Consul either. "Leaders" don't care about their own rewards, they care about the welfare of their Clan. Those AWOL checks might seem trivial but they are still important and somebody has to do them. The Aedile has two choices, do it, not care about rewards, and be happy they are helping contribute to the growth and success of their House, or, even better, show initiative, perhaps revive their House's Rollmaster spot and appoint sombody else to handle it if they feel they are too busy to deal with AWOL checks. The Aedile who just sits there and whines that running AWOL checks is boring and that they should be doing more interesting things aren't the one's doing their jobs properly nor using their heads or initiative.

I spent six months in Aedile, thirteen in Quaestor (turning down Proconsul twice), twelve in Proconsul (during which time I saw three Consuls rise and fall), fourteen in Consul, ten in Sith High Warrior and now another ten so far in Consul.

Did I feel ignored when I was Proconsul? Hell yes.
Did I get fed up short-lived Consuls got all the recognition? Certainly.
Did I quit? No. I stuck with it.

Looking at my rank I'd have to say having to wait a little longer certainly didn't do me any harm.

A lot of people have to realise that not everybody can end up as Dark Adept in 18 months.