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First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

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  • [AAR] First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

    Last night, I hosted Open Leadership Night for the first time, where a new squad leader was encouraged to step up and lead while being shadowed by an experienced NCO or Officer. I think it went very well, so I wanted to share a little bit about what we did and what we learned.

    Operational Narrative

    I was able to twist DaelonSazuka's arm into being my first guinea pig, er, Squad Leader Candidate. :p I asked him what kind of squad he would like to run, as I explained to him that is one of the benefits of being an SL, usually you get to do what you like (within the CoC of course, i.e., as long as it's OK with the PL). He chose Armor, so that's how we started out. Eventually the squad filled up, and people were clamoring in Outfit text to open another squad. Luckily, MrJengles was in the squad and therefore we were able to expand to another Bravo SL training squad; MrJengles would shadow Berto1d as Bravo Squad Lead, and they would eventually transition out of their vehicles into an infantry squad. When we formed Bravo, I took PL duties but stayed in Alpha to continue to work with DaelonSuzuka.

    We operated in middle to NW Indar, with the armor squad providing Sunderer and armor support, while Bravo infantry squad would assault the points. The specific details of the op are not important, as we were focusing more on taking the little extra time needed to train/coach the new SLs. One thing I will say though is that we did not set too high of expectations, did not get into any huge battles (although one huge battle did find us, near the end, lol) and we pretty much ignored the one alert that went off while we were operating. I think these are important considerations in order to lessen the pressure on the new SLs, and also why I scheduled this early in the week, and not on a serious ops night. I also took time to periodically announce to the platoon that we were doing an open training night, and therefore ops may move a little slower than normal, and if anyone was looking for more fast paced action to please drop and join another squad. We had mostly TG, but a few pubbies, but I am happy to say that no one dropped out, as everyone seemed to be enjoying the experience, including the pubbies. In fact gamespyer, one of the leaders of The Roseknights outfit [TRKS] (one of our NCC allies) had even dropped into Bravo and ended up staying with us most of the evening.

    Eventually, we got our butts kicked pretty bad by a gigantic VS force (2 platoons?) at Camp Connery. By now it was starting to get late (~Midnight EST), and the onset of Vanu Office Hours usually means it's time to call it a night, and so that's what we did. After ops concluded, we fell back to the warpgate upstairs to do an AAR / debrief. I announced what we would be doing and told everyone if they wanted to go shoot things to go ahead and drop squad. Many people (not only the SL Candidates, but also regular squad members, including blueberries) said thanks and that they had learned something, but that they were instead going to bed and said goodbyes. I folded the remainder down to one squad for the AAR.

    We stayed at the warpgate for a good long while doing some debrief and other chatting, including the TRKS leader gamespyer. When he finally departed, even he said he had learned a few things (and he is an outfit leader and experienced PL in his own right). We garnered a new recruit, Chyorniy, who has apparently played with TG before in other games as he already knew about us and who we are. As the evening wore on, eventually Methuselah (one of the leaders of NC10) and Aeflic (one of the leaders of VCO) also dropped into our squad and the discussion turned to NC leadership, COMMAND channel, and other challenges we face as a faction on this server. It was a great chat and actually went on for hours (until about 3AM EST). Even Sparhawkxx made an appearance! It was quite the star studded night in fact! lol

    Leadership Development and the Future of the Outfit

    I had previously offered to shadow anyone who was interested via the forums and other ways, but never really had any takers. I also started to get TGU classes going, but didn't find much interest there either. I think the reason doing it this way works is because it can be scheduled on a regular basis, every week. You can reach everyone in game (realizing all of these people do not come to the forums) and just start doing it, no planning is required. Also I feel that some people may need a little nudge to get started, but I think by setting time aside to do this, proceeding at a more relaxed pace, and having them know that they had an experienced SL/NCO/Officer right there to support them, that created a much more comfortable environment conducive to learning. Or at least to getting their feet wet as a new (or relatively new) SL.

    I think it's important for the longevity of the outfit to encourage and develop future SLs. In my 6+ months in PS2 I have seen some of the biggest NC outfits rise to size and prominence, and then shrink in size dramatically (or fall completely by the wayside), and it's usually due to the founders getting burnt out from leading all of the time. I am a big believer in "many hands make light work" and by training up more willing and able Squad Leads, we can supplement the numbers we already enjoy. Eventually, my hope is that some of these SLs step up and decide to accept the challenges of PLing also. The more experienced SLs and PLs we have, the less often each of us individually has to step up and lead. That is why I am very excited about this idea and therefore plan to continue it in the future.

    To that end, I will make myself available on Monday and/or Tuesday evenings for this purpose. We may not do it every Monday AND Tuesday, but I will be around on one or both of those days to see if anyone is interested. If we have interested candidates, enough NCOs, and enough TGers willing to participate in the squad(s) then I will carry out a training session. If not, then I won't.

    Misc. Lessons Learned

    Initially, I thought it might be a good idea for the SL candidate and their respective NCO to be in a private TS channel together, for coaching purposes. Daelon did not have TS set up, so we ended up just doing it right in squad instead. But we discovered this had an unintended benefit, as now all of the squad members were receiving the benefits of the coaching. And many seemed to be very interested in hearing it. So I would recommend continuing to do it this way in the future.

    Another note, it may be easier and more productive to just stick to infantry squads, instead of dedicated asset squads (air, armor, etc.) as the latter have a little higher logistical management and therefore cognitive load potentially involved on a new SL. Unless that person has a lot of time already in air or armor squads. But infantry squads might be best for their first one or two tries, until they get their feet wet at least with the basics of Squad Leading, and then maybe have them do an air or armor squad in a subsequent session.

    We also started out (as Al often does) slowly and far away from enemy lines, in this case at our own warpgate. I think the time it takes to begin moving across the map allows the squad to begin to gel as they get into the habit of moving together in formation (this applies more to an armor squad than anything, but similar logic applies to infantry as well, i.e., start in small battles away from large concentrations of enemy).

    If anyone else has anything else to add, please do so by replying to this thread. And thanks again to MrJengles for helping me out with this (and Bolivian also, can someone also send him a mic now for Chrissakes, lol), our two SL Candidates DaelonSuzuka and Berto1d, and to all the other squad members for their patience and good following of orders of the new SLs. Oh yes, and to nightbird for taking out those 2-4 squads of Striker nest on that hill with his sniper rifle. LOL Due to everyone working together, I think we can say it was a great success.
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw




  • #2
    Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

    I'd love to help out with something like this (though my availability is going to vary wildly, my game is just a bit more than 2 months before release and that means the pressure is on). Feel free to ping me to check for availability, if that's at all helpful to you.

    It's interesting that the private coms didn't prove to be necessary (I'd have thought that it'd be better to keep the criticism private to maintain squad morale and let the newbie SL save face), but I think that's a positive thing given how squad members were also picking things up as the night went along. If everyone's coming in with the expectation that mistakes will be made and it's all supposed to be a learning experience, then the things I mentioned as possible pitfalls are avoided. I'd still prefer to have a private channel between the SL and the trainer if it were a live op, though, since under those circumstances the squad members are likely to be less forgiving.

    What form did the training take? Were you prompting the trainees for orders, giving them reminders, or just taking questions?



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    • #3
      Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

      Originally posted by Randy_Shughart_ClwFL View Post

      And thanks again to MrJengles for helping me out with this (and Bolivian also, can someone also send him a mic now for Chrissakes, lol)
      I like that idea XD.
      Also StarStriker, we did all three and more. We would always give pointers, he would ask questions, and we would tell him how orders could be sent easier and quicker.
      Questions about those who deserve it!
      "Remember, no survivors" -Myself and probably what explains my methods the most

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      • #4
        Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

        You're mixing folks up a little bit Randy. Your first victi- I mean... candidate wasn't myself, but PhallexanderTheGreat. He was the one that wanted to run an armor squad and didn't have Teamspeak set up. I had to drop shortly after you started up the leadership night and returned a little less than an hour later, right before Phallexander signed off. At that point I believe there was already a Bravo squad but I stepped up to try leading Alpha.

        That said, I thought it was a blast. I really appreciate the opportunity to get experience leading troops without being under the kind of result-driven pressure that prime-time ops can bring. I can't wait to lead again and hopefully I'll be able to apply this experience and do better!


        A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum. -Jon McBride, astronaut

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        • #5
          Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

          A very productive night indeed, well done all involved! Good summary Randy and I'll try to be available on the same nights.


          Also, a fascinating insight into some aspects of outfit management in an MMO: avoiding the cycle of outfit growth and decline via burnout through recruiting and leadership training, building relationships with other outfits, co-operating through comms and the prospect of non-verbal tools like the mission system, dealing with disagreements, the affect of Alerts on these and other things that were mentioned.

          For those who stayed thanks for the discussion, particularly gamespyer, Methuselah and Aeflic for the wider perspective. It was very apparent there was mutual respect all around.


          Agreed on infantry squads being a little easier.

          There were many benefits to using squad comms: everyone effectively gets the training, it may create an interest in SLing for those who weren't interested, blueberries get to hear how we operate and it's easier to avoid talking over each other by cutting down the number of channels.

          That all being said, I do think there are situations where SL authority might be undermined when advice turns to "that won't quite do enough, you've gotta say more like X". In the debrief afterwards, I compared this to our decision to use in-game platoon comms but still highly advise leaders to be in TS for the occasional, more in-depth private conversation.

          As we have found out on a previous occasion, asking someone to set up TS in the moment is way too much hassle. Either they have it at the time or you don't use it.



          |TG-Irr| MrJengles - You know you want to say it out loud.

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          • #6
            Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

            Great concept and good work everyone last night. I think it went very well.

            That said, I have a little different take.
            The personal TS channel is useful in my opinion.


            Why Personal TS Channel for Mentor and Trainee is Useful
            The reason is, as MrJengles points out, the loss of authority for the SL, and also because it creates uncertainty as to whose orders should be followed.
            I was with Mr. Jengles last night and for a while it seemed to me that Mr. Jengles was running the squad, not the trainee (sorry I forgot his name!). I do not mean this as an insult to the trainee SL, I mean simply that Jengles was the voice I heard the most, and his "suggestions" were often treated as orders. This left me as the squad member not knowing whose orders should I follow? If I hear a suggestion from MrJengles should I treat that as an order and do it? Or should I wait for the SL to say "Yes, that's a good idea, do that" or what? I do not think the trainee or the mentor in my squad personally did anything wrong, it is just a result of trying to teach as you lead in squad chat. For this reason I think the private TS is helpful, so the squad hears orders from the SL, and knows who to listen to. It is for this reason that I often send suggestions as private tells to squad leaders or platoon leaders-- I do not wish to challenge their authority openly where the squad can hear it, I only want them to hear my point of view and make their call. For the reasons of loss of authority for the SL, and clarity of expectations for squad members I would argue for the private channel for Trainee/Mentor.

            I agree infantry is better, because it has plenty of depth and complexity for the new (and the experienced), and you need not worry about the logistics of "who still has enough resources for another aircraft/tank?"

            SUGGESTION FOR NEW SQUAD LEADERS - Do Some Reading
            In addition, I have the following suggestion to all new squad leaders who want to improve - read the several posts/threads on leadership we have on these forums.

            A description of communication in chart form in a PS2 platoon. by evilhardt

            Comments on Emale's leadership See post number 11 and 12. Before that is mostly "good job" comments which is fine, but not something you can learn from.


            (My post, with many good followup comments from different people.


            There are a lot of good ideas you can read here which will give you a good place to start from. I only linked the first three things I saw which seemed relevant, there is plenty more, and these are not necessarily the best. Even my own post could be wrong in a few places.

            My main point is no sense reinventing the wheel. The mistakes new leaders make seem to be the same for most people, so some reading or talking to someone whose leadership style you like can put you ahead of the curve. People have different approaches to leadership, so some of the advise will be contradictory, but it will give you a good place to start.

            I think this Trainee squad leader night is a good idea. Lets keep at it.
            Last edited by Garthra; 11-19-2013, 09:36 PM. Reason: added links
            The question foremost in my mind is "what will bring the most tactical fun to the server?"

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            • #7
              Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

              Garthra I completely agree with you, if a squad leader can't have his own commands, who is really leading? I also believe that we should start to tell other in the outfit about this. As we all know, not everyone keeps an eye on the forums as often as others. So maybe just having squad leaders mention the dates to the outfit and squad members.This will increase the amount if candidates who approach and ask to be squad leader and it is better for all of us.
              Questions about those who deserve it!
              "Remember, no survivors" -Myself and probably what explains my methods the most

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              • #8
                Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                +1 Bolivian; Yes, let those of us who read the forums go forth and spread the word, as it says in my signature. lol Also, I will be updating the MOTD to something about Open Leadership Night (although I'm not sure how many people read that, either). I suppose that by talking about it in game every Mon/Tue, eventually word will get around.

                Apologies Daelon for mixing you up with PhallexanderTheGreat. I remembered someone had to leave for some reason, and then I ended up with someone else (and then back again?) but I couldn't remember the other name.

                And yes, the initial reasoning for being in a private TS channel with the SL Candidate was exactly as Garthra and others describe (i.e., clarity of command, ability to coach without eroding SL authority, etc.). However what I initially might have thought was not how it ended up working out in practice. I still think we should do the coaching in squad, and this is why. As previously mentioned, this gives everyone in the squad the benefit of the coaching. I think this is the most important reason. I think that by being clear about the purpose of the squad for the evening (and repeating that periodically as new people join throughout), you can avoid any second guessing or erosion of (the new) SL's authority. Also, comms are easier for the new SL to manage, as people will not be saying things in SQUAD when the coach is talking as they might do if they can't hear him because he is in TS.

                Having said all of that, you do bring up a very important point which I forgot to mention. In my squad, I made a very conscious effort not to actually lead the squad, or say too much. My approach was to let the SL Candidate lead, although I would offer suggestions and coaching. You just have to accept that things are not going to run perfectly, you have to give them room to make their own mistakes. If things go really awry, you could jump in and give orders, but I avoided doing this in all cases except once where our armor was under heavy fire and I told everyone to pull back as my goal was to preserve the assets. But I could have just as easily let the assets get destroyed, and then turned that into a "teachable moment." Point being, the Coach/NCO needs to let the SL lead, and get out of his way for the most part, and let him make mistakes and learn. It requires patience and restraint, which is why I would never do this under the pressure of a regular ops night. It's a completely different frame of mind you need to be in (you, the Coach, the SL Candidate, the squad, everybody).

                Now getting back to answering Starstrikers question (replying in sort of recent to oldest order here). What I did was to start out with basics, explain how to set the recruiting message, etc. and then basically whatever I was thinking (or would have thought if I was SLing), I would share with the Candidate. I realize that's vague and situational, but notice that I'm sharing my thoughts with the SL candidate, and then letting him make the decisions / direct and lead the squad. I think that's why in my squad at least we avoided some of the pitfalls of unclear authority as mentioned above. Then of course I would answer any specific questions (raised either by the Candidate or sometimes even by squad members). Also, periodically I would prod him if I didn't hear him saying anything for a while, direct him to direct his squad more, keep them together, or whatever. What will be required will be highly individual, depending on the Candidate.

                One of the biggest things that I think I had to do with both of the guys I had though was to start getting them out of the mentality of "just following orders." I explained that there is a bit of give and take between SLs and PL, particularly w/r/t providing intel/feedback/suggestions up the CoC (sometimes the SL is in a better position to see what is happening on the ground than the PL). I also had to make the point to them to be proactive (in other words, to lead). It's now on your (the SLs) shoulders to come up with a plan to tactically implement the PLs orders on the local level, make sure and manage logistics, realize when a situation has changed, suggest pulling back or redeployment to the PL, etc. It's a completely different mentality than just being a regular squad member really. And, once developed can be a bit of a double edged sword as it can lead to back seat SL/PLing. But that's OK, I would be happy to deal with more of that at this point. lol
                "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                • #9
                  Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                  That sounds like something I can do. :)



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                  • #10
                    Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                    Which, SS? Back seat SL/PL? :p

                    If you meant coach an SL Candidate, I would think so. You are one of our best Squad/Platoon leaders, with a great grasp of tactics and strategy.
                    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                    • #11
                      Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                      I believe that this should have its own "Official" thread, then having sub threads which speaks on like an AAR of what the pros and cons were of that night. Also speaking of how it can improve, what isn't necessary, as more. As all other topics, this will need to be discussed so we know if that wi be necessary.
                      Questions about those who deserve it!
                      "Remember, no survivors" -Myself and probably what explains my methods the most

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                        Speaking to that point Bolivian, the idea has already occurred to me to cull all the useful information out of this thread and condense it down it into a sort of outline or guide for running these types of training ops. I suppose that outline will eventually end up with the TGU repository we have here, for the benefit and future use of all.
                        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                        • #13
                          Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                          Originally posted by Randy_Shughart_ClwFL View Post
                          Which, SS? Back seat SL/PL? :p
                          ...Was that ever in question? :P



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                          • #14
                            Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                            I was actually just joking around as well SS :p, but this does bring an important point to mind that I would like to make. And I am referring here to regular operations, not a training op.

                            I think the more experience I have in game now (and especially in leadership roles) my opinion has evolved on this. Maybe it's because I have been recognized as an Officer and I think most people know who I am and consider me a pretty good leader at this point. Perhaps by feeling secure in my leadership role, it has allowed me to be more open to entertaining alternative ideas, without taking them personally or as some challenging my authority.

                            Before, it used to really aggravate me. Now I appreciate the fact that someone is bringing something to my attention that I may have overlooked, or a better way to go about something. One of the greatest assets we have here at TG are a lot of very smart, tactically/strategically inclined thinkers, and we should take advantage of that.

                            Usually, there is time for such discussion. And usually, if I disagree with a certain idea, I will explain in squad/platoon why I don't like it. This turns it into a sort of "teachable moment" for everyone listening. But then again I am also a big fan of explaining the overall strategy (at least briefly, and especially as PL) as I think it creates more "buy in" by the platoon (and SLs) as well as clueing them in on how to equip themselves before we move out.

                            It goes back to that "give and take" between SLs and PL. My opinion currently is that if someone steps up to SL, this grants them a seat at the "leadership discussion table" so to speak, as well as a certain amount of leeway to carry out the plan. Now sometimes there isn't time for that (last crucial few minutes of a close alert for instance). Although paradoxically, sometimes that is when you need to be most open to hearing an alternative plan!

                            Last night was a perfect example, last several minutes of a territory alert on Amerish, MrJengles was trying to tell me to go one place, I was sending us to another, if we had started going about 2 minutes earlier we could have taken it before the end of the alert but we failed to do so in time. Mostly because we were in combat and I didn't hear his suggestion though. Afterwards I told him I wish he would have repeated himself or been more forceful in his suggestion as it was excellent and was what we should have done. But I think he probably felt as if he didn't want to speak out of turn too much.

                            This balance is something I discuss quite a bit with Jengles, Garthra, and others actually and varies greatly depending on the individuals involved. Although I think as leaders we should all work toward fostering a positive and cooperative leadership group, as I think that is what works most effectively.
                            "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                            • #15
                              Re: First Open Leadership Night a Success 11/18/13

                              Thanks for the feedback Garthra.

                              I also noticed some issues and certainly felt that I had to hold back so as not to greatly erode the leadership. I stuck with the squad comms as a test, although I didn't ask Berto1d about TS.


                              After a bit of thought on the matter, I think it plainly comes down to the fact that teaching the squad and teaching the SL are different objectives. Ideally, you would teach the squad with an experienced leader who can react quickly and has time to spare. This would require two different training nights and I'm not convinced is worthwhile.

                              For the two to co-exist, which I think they can, comments in squad VOIP cannot place any pressure on the leader to do things the coach's way, nor cause squad members any confusion over who's in charge, when to act and what is discussion vs orders.

                              Some of what I said encroached on this but at the same time I think would be practical once the trainee SL has clearly asserted their authority. Of course, it's not fitting to explain how to do that in front of everyone - although pointing out proper use afterwards may well be. This falls under the critiquing category which, as Starstriker said, really should be done privately.

                              Likewise, in-depth discussion about options, and eventual orders, should be kept private just as we ask our SLs and PLs to keep it in TS.


                              Hence, apart from general tips, I suggest keeping everything to Teamspeak until a decision is made and orders are presented by the SL - either during or after execution by the squad. Only then should the coach offer a summary of the conversation and reasoning if time permits. Comms usage should be corrected in TS, but proper use by the squad leader can be pointed out in squad VOIP.

                              If there isn't time, that's fine, the training should focus on the squad leader while for everyone else it's only a bonus. Besides, the same situation may repeat later on, or another day, when there is time to explain. Indeed, once the SL knows how to handle a particular situation you'll be saved the time talking in TS next time around.



                              Randy, this may come down to teaching styles but I believe mistakes should be avoided by proactively explaining how and why to do things a certain way. What's the use of consulting someone who has already learned from their own mistakes if they don't help you avoid those they know how?

                              Certainly, if the trainee wants to try the ill-advised tactic anyway then I would let the mistake occur. Heck, they may change the details slightly and, despite my doubts, they may be correct that it can work. To me, mistakes can be learned from whether the knowledge comes first or afterwards, but can only be avoided outright with the former and speeds the process up.

                              It's not about offering the right way vs the wrong way, it's about giving a sense of how various options are likely to perform and letting the trainee decide.


                              As to back seat squad leading, I could comment but I think that really deserves it's own topic.



                              |TG-Irr| MrJengles - You know you want to say it out loud.

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