As with all other organized human interaction, eSports needs leaders. Whether we are talking teams, organizations, schools with eSport or even the entire eSports culture, there will always be a need for leaders.
Leaders are the figures that step up to the challenge of creating, developing and maintaining eSports projects. They are the ones weaving all the strings together. You will find them at the forefront of the developmental race, trying new, creative solutions to continuously evolving problems.
Leaders engage people, motivates their cooperants and work to earn their followers respect. Good leaders have an understanding, and interest, in the people surrounding them. They understand that the only way to succeed in their endeavor is to stimulate growth through their team and organization.
And that are just a few of the reasons why it is by no means an easy task to be a leader. So how can we help the leaders of eSports to face these challenges better? Our first answer to that question is via proper education. The second is creating cooperation through a structured network of like-minded colleagues. The third, and last to be examined in this article, is continual development.
Through this article we will zoom into the three propositions mentioned (education, network and continual development). There will not be room to write fulfilling discussions for each of the propositions. Therefore, we will focus on the purpose of utilizing each of the three forces of leadership. Our hope is that these descriptions of purpose will be a starting point for more work into creating, supporting and developing leadership in eSport.
Professional eSports organizations:
When we refer to professional eSports organizations, we are not just referring to the competitive organizations (such as Fnatic, Cloud9 or NiP). We are also considering schools that feature eSport, volunteer organizations, youth clubs and entertainment companies (such as those putting on major eSport leagues and tournaments all over the place). We understand every organization that works with eSport in a structured manner to be a professional eSports organization.
Education gives us three things, for us to consider in this section: knowledge, network and common ground. Therefore, the purpose of educating leaders in eSport, is not to show them what they are doing so far is wrong. It is rather to create a standard of how we handle eSport as a national culture (or within certain organizations and federations).
At the moment, there is no standardized way of thinking about leadership in eSports projects. At any given time, the quality of leaders in eSport will therefore vary greatly. At the same time, a great deal of eSport project are run on a voluntary basis, with a high rate of turnover within the projects. We have to understand that the eSports world is still new, and growing at an extreme rate. But this also leaves room for creating stronger coherence among the eSports world, specially within the professional eSports organizations.
To do that, the purpose of education must firstly be to provide the necessary knowledge to the leaders in eSports. Knowledge on how to control the process of creating an eSports project – and how to run it. Knowledge of leadership theory on how to motivate and stimulate employees and cooperants. Knowledge of factors relevant to eSports, such as physical and psychological health, and growth. The list of factors is long, but the purpose stays the same through them all: Giving leaders the knowledge they need to succeed in creating lasting, worthwhile eSports projects. An education that understands and utilizes the knowledge that exists, while teaching leaders how to seek the new knowledge constantly appearing worldwide, has to be the aim.
Network, as will be explored further in the section below, will also be a purpose of education. Bringing together eSports leaders from all of the community, giving them a chance to share ideas, discuss decisions and create new solutions. Alongside the education itself, hopefully an organized network of eSports leaders, can be created and maintained. This will create an even stronger way of handling our eSports projects, as we can reach out to relevant sources and involve the right participants.
Lastly, in this section, we will mention common ground, as a purpose of educating our eSport leaders. A problem with the major diversity in eSport projects, and especially their quality, is that the general public will have a greatly varying understanding of eSports. If we want to be taken seriously, and if we want to create sustainable eSports projects, we simply need to gain the trust of the greater public. And this takes a common ground from which we step into the world of eSport. A collective purpose, of using eSports and gaming to strengthen children’s development, create healthy competition for professionals, and stimulate the economy in a rational manner.
Network is the next purpose of the education of eSports leaders. Creating the strongest possible culture of eSport, nationally and even internationally, requires us to learn from each other. It also requires us to work together across professions, functions and purpose. This means that eSports leaders of all professions have a lot to gain from each other. It means that no matter what the function of your particular eSports project is, you have important knowledge and information to share with you fellow eSports leaders. And it means that cooperation between private, social and governmental institutions are something to be sought after. Whether we want it or not, eSports is about passionate players of all ages, competing in their favorite eSport game, to the joy and entertainment of any number of interested fans. If we boil it down to the essentials, it is all about people sharing a common interest. Therefore, we must as eSport leaders also share the common interest of creating lasting and worthwhile eSports projects. By using each other’s knowledge and help, this will by all means be a more realistic goal to obtain.
It is the responsibility of eSport leaders to grow and maintain networks that can help them better their projects. One development that is underway in Denmark right now, is the creation and development of a national federation of eSports, called “eSport Danmark”. One of the goals of the project, is to create greater coherence within the eSports community. We can only salute this work, and we support it however we can. It is so fundamental for successful cultures that they work together, to improve whatever they are passionate about.
Our advice to leaders in eSport, is to reach out to others within the field. Our own experience have been nothing but positive, this far, with everyone very willing to communicate and share knowledge of their experiences with eSports. One thing we can promise your, is that you are always welcome to contact us!
In order to maintain all the good work that eSports leaders are doing, through the knowledge they have gained via education, and the network they are maintain with their colleagues, good eSport leaders will have to work on continually developing their leadership.
We include the concept of continual development in the article, simply because all future leadership has to keep evolving. The challenges leaders meet will be constantly differing, and the tempo will only increase. That is why leaders have to gain the necessary skills to keep evolving their leadership.
In the eSports world, tides changes by the minute. Skilled leaders will have to be able to analyze their situation, and steer their ship and crew through the high, and low, tides. One way to enhance this skill within a leader is to develop and experimental leadership style.
Experimental leadership has to do with allocating a proper amount of time, to try out real-life experiments to enhance their effectivity, motivational skills, empathy, or some other vital part of good leadership. Of course, a good leader does not constantly experiment, leaving his cooperants constantly guessing what he will come up with next. But to ensure constant growth, something must always be moving. One way to do this, is by using a supervisor to discuss possible ways of addressing new problems and developing new mindsets.
A different way to keep the ball rolling, is constituting the leadership of an organization within a leadership team. This can give rise to feedback informed development. If the team has a strong enough trust and communication, they can help point out weak – and strong points in each other, giving rise to new ways for the individual to work towards an enhanced leadership.
No matter how an eSport leader chooses to work with continually developing their leadership skills, the fundamental idea is to not stand still for too long. The important balance, is to take advantage of the leaderships skills currently available to drive the project or organization forward, while working on new skillsets, for future advancement.
These thoughts on continual development concludes our article on the topic of eSports leadership. Much more is to be explored; and it will. Through our continued work with the knowledge of eSport, we will share our discoveries, hopefully helping the entire eSport culture evolving into the potentiale we believe rests within it.