It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. I’m on the verge of retiring from law at the ripe old age of 31, leaving Washington, DC for Madison, WI, and have bought a house there in preparation for the end-of-July move. Perhaps sensing this abrupt and radical upward tick in my aggregate amount of free time, Darius JOHNSON, long-time CEO of Goonfleet/Goonwaffe (and leader of [LODRA] alliance) has decided to step down, leaving me officially in the Hot Seat, in charge of thousands of Goons.
Many years ago, Remedial, the founder of Goonfleet, stepped down and left me as the CEO during an era when I was not only lacking the time to play the game, but when I actively didn’t want the job. Then there were the revelations of CCP corruption surrounding the T20 scandal which utterly soured me on the spot; after launching a couple of media ‘threadnaughts’ I resigned in disgust and went on hiatus, returning to the shadows to guide the alliance without an official title. Given my previous performance, the bar for ‘success’ as CEO amounts to ‘Don’t flame out inside of a month’. Start the countdown!
Regardless of the past, watching CEOs and other alliance leaders (either friendly leaders, or by reading the mail of my enemies) has left me with a surprising wealth of ‘other people’s experience’ to draw from. The essence of wisdom, I’ve always said, is learning from the mistakes of others; I’ve already been able to put that to good use in Week One of the Reign of Mittens. Here’s what I’ve figured out thus far:
Give Generously: Also known as ‘Bribe Everyone’. Many alliances are sitting upon substantial sums of isk; even for those that aren’t, there are a number of inexpensive yet popular programs which you, as CEO, can implement. Free ships for newbies, increasing reimbursements, logistics services; as a new CEO, it’s important to demonstrate that you are immediately working towards the benefits of your members.
Be Stern, not Arbitrary: A new CEO always has enemies and detractors. Crush them, but not arbitrarily; set rules and guidelines for behavior. Mine is simple: don’t fuck with the CEO. A corollary of this is never to make an idle threat; if you promise you will do a thing, do it. EVE corporations are essentially dictatorships, and you cannot afford to be weak, waffling, or erratic. Similarly, if there are any manifestly unpopular decisions you need to make, do them immediately upon taking office, just as Machiavelli suggests.
Hire Teams of Directors: A small directorate is a moribund directorate. Often, organizations have a single director of logistics; I hired five. Instead of merely having a director of in charge of a budget, I hired four people to work on a ‘Finance Team’. This minimizes single-person dependencies, and when you have teams there’s enough group excitement that they can produce results without micromanagement from the CEO.
Use Democracy Sparingly: There are times when you need to show that you are willing to listen to the membership, and times when you need to not even put a decision to discussion. Too many CEOs get bogged down in democracy, losing their powers as an autocrat; worse, some issues are simply too divisive to be put to a vote. Call the occasional poll, but don’t let a fetish for elections dissuade you from direct action. That said, polls can be an excellent cover to ram through a mostly-popular issue that has a vehement but small opposition; rather than being the ‘Oppressive CEO’ overturning the minority’s wishes, you are simply a vehicle of popular will. A good guideline, however, is to never call a poll you don’t already know the outcome of.
Secure Assets: No CEO should be without a Wallet Corp for securing financial assets and locking down critical bpos. There’s absolutely no reason to have vast sums of isk floating around with more than one person having access to it.
Wave the Flag: As a CEO, your job is to wave the flag of the organization. You must inspire enthusiasm and loyalty, and that means both going on ops regularly and being a visible presence, as well as posting updates and frequent communications to the membership (usually on forums). An active CEO results in an engaged membership, without which nothing can be accomplished.
Avoid Emotional Reactions: EVE Online is full of strong personalities, and nowhere is this more obvious than the field of diplomacy. Wars can start over injured pride or an emotional reaction; whenever you find yourself enraged, take a moment and think – or a few hours. Usually it’s better to talk and sort conflicts out through conversation, because when wars start, it can take years to end the feud.
Avoid Relocation: Every time you force your alliance or corp to relocate, members will go inactive simply because moving is a tremendous pain in the ass in EVE. Goonswarm has suffered from this recently, with three moves in four months; every time the move is called, a third of the organization goes inactive. Stay put whenever possible, ideally for at least two months before moving on again.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? We’ll see if I end up screwing it up horribly!
I should write a followup column to this; I’m not sure why I wrote an advice column about leadership when I was just ascending the throne, rather than after a while in the top spot. The advice is mostly sound, but now that I’ve had the longest-running CEOship in Goonswarm history (almost 2.5 years, gods help me) I can back up statements about the team system and avoiding single-person-dependencies with experience.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by The Mittani.