Sins of the Solar Spymaster #27 - The Five Types of Alliance Leaders
With the upcoming Dominion expansion's emphasis on introducing a broader section of the playerbase to the joys of alliance life and warfare, now is a great time to examine some of the most common types of leader. In the past we've considered the forms of alliance government (democracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, etc) but another important influence on galactic politics comes down to raw personality. In the currently stagnant world of nullsec, perhaps fifty humans end up with decision-making authority over the entirety of 0.0. Understanding who these sorts of people are and what makes them tick is one of the secrets that allows an astute observer to predict the next moves in the Great Game.
While there are always individual differences, or people who simply cannot be categorized, in the main there are five distinct alliance leadership styles in New Eden.
*Dear Leader: One of the most basic methods of human leadership, the cult of personality is maddeningly common in EVE - as in the real world. The good news is that a personality cult is easy to identify and avoid. The bad news is that these are hard to exterminate without utterly ruining the reputation of whichever Dear Leader is inspiring their charges. These crop up whenever you have an alliance leader who is more charismatic than average and has cultivated a habit of public glorification; since nerds who play spaceship games aren't known for their charisma, the Dear Leaders of EVE aren't the kind of people you would expect a cult to form around elsewhere. Obvious examples here are Remedial of Goonswarm, Sir Molle of Band of Brothers, and Bobby Atlas of Atlas. The success of the alliance is often attributed to the mystical or superhuman powers of the leader, obscuring the efforts of the many thousands of people working for the organization.
*The Promoted FC: This is the most common type of alliance leader. Fleet commanders are some of the rarest people in New Eden; the willingness to accept the responsibility of command and risk the loss of your fellow pilot's assets in battle takes a degree of leadership that very few players possess. A successful fleet commander often finds himself promoted to the highest levels of alliance leadership, not only due to a willingness to lead but the necessity of including upper-echelon FCs in the strategic decision-making process of an alliance. Unfortunately, the transition from leading fleets to guiding an alliance can be rocky. The focus of a fleet commander is on individual battles, while an alliance leader must have a much longer time horizon. The skills needed to command a fleet don't necessarily translate to the thornier aspects of grand diplomacy, propaganda or logistical coordination; perhaps the biggest risk of the Promoted FC is a tendency to micromanage areas outside of their given skillset. Examples of this type of leader abound: Evil Thug, UAxDeath, Shadoo, Shamis Orzoz, and Phreeze all began their careers as FCs.
*The Grey Eminence: As a disclaimer, I forswore any official title within Goonswarm several years ago, so I can be quite biased on this particular topic. Sometimes, an alliance leader isn't formally a leader at all. Authority carries with it some disadvantages, such as responsibility for failure and the necessity of pandering to the hoi polloi; a number of major leaders in EVE are merely diplomats, logistics directors or counselors, yet their word carries the weight of an oligarch. These grey eminences are the shadow chancellors of New Eden. Yet this is a fairly common leadership archetype, roughly analogous to a respected elder statesman. Grey Eminences bring a wealth of experience and raw cunning to an alliance, but there are disadvantages; they tend to be relatively unaccountable.
*The Compromise Candidate: Alliances can be shaky entities, bound loosely around a common interest such as isk-making or sheer whim. In situations where there is a dearth of leadership ability - or multiple competing leaders from different corporations - Compromise Candidates are selected as the 'least bad' choice. This is an extremely common type of leader in carebear alliances, or areas where there is not much strife; they tend to be weak and ineffective from the outset, because they don't have any natural political powerbase. Where the Promoted FC may be the most common type of successful alliance leader, the Compromise Candidate rules the realm of alliances which have failed. This category also covers the 'Confused Carebear' leader often found in industrial organizations, who somehow ended up in charge of a military entity despite being a diehard producer. There are a number of these in the Galactic North and in the Drone Regions.
*One of the Boys: Sometimes, leadership of an alliance isn't handed to a fleet commander or someone with a legion of frothing followers, but someone representative of the 'crowd' of the alliance. Compared to the promoted FC, the 'man of the people' leader is usually better equipped to handle politically sensitive issues and delegate matters which they lack experience. However, because they have no obvious specialization in the game itself, this is the rarest kind of leader; their rise tends to be accidental, or someone who began as a Compromise Candidate and excelled. One good example is Darius Johnson of Goonswarm, who reigned for nearly two years and went on to be twice elected to the CSM.