Hey folks. I wanted to write this post to share some of my personal thoughts on leadership and preparing your org for the future. These aren't necessarily "Memoirs from a Former CIJ Leader", nobody would want to read that (and it would be pretty boring honestly). Instead I just want to focus on some reflections I've had that I hope any future leaders of any org can draw from. Most of this will probably be applicable only to Houses, as city leadership is an entirely different ballgame.
I think the most important thing a House leader can do is focus on your novices above all. Novices whether they're true newbies or alts are the life of your House (duh). But true newbies play an important role. They're not just the future of your House, but Achaea as a whole. We all know that Achaea doesn't get many true newbies, and so we need to provide an environment that truly compels them to return. So what you need to do is drill the idea of interacting with novices into your House, really emphasize that true newbies need friends that keep them coming back to Achaea. The gameplay of Achaea is only half the reason people love Achaea - most of us truly love Achaea because we've established groups of friends here.
Your novice aides need to establish friendship with novices early on. I created a "reward" program in the CIJ where mentors get a little credit prize when their novices advance in rank. A small prize, like a total of 5 credits when their protege went from HR1 to HR5, but it worked. People spent a lot more time with their novices and took them shopping, bashing, invited them to drinks at the tavern. I also vastly simplified the CIJ requirements so novices didn't need to do essays or lengthy boring history stuff. Herbs, skills, a certain level, and I made sure they knew how to use Achaea's auto-curing. This might not work for every House but it certainly worked for the CIJ. We went from a completely dead House with 3 active members to about 15 - 20 people online during peak hours. There's a thread on statistics where the OP said that the CIJ was the #2 most active House for novices. This is how we got there. We provided an environment that allowed the novices to quickly establish rapport with senior members and feel a part of the family, from the moment they walked through our door.
The second most important thing is avoiding promotions based on personal friendships. This is a plague in Achaea, we all know that. Elections are decided by OOC friendships and bloodline ties. But as a leader, its your job to ensure that the people in positions of authority (especially HoN, your most important position) are truly qualified for the job because they truly care about the job, not because they're your friend. I once read a quote that said "A boss should never make friends with people below his station". I don't agree with that.
You do need to be able to view your friends in your org the same way you would view any other applicant for a position though, and judge them on their merits.
I promoted the quietest guy in our House to HoN, not because I knew him personally. I promoted him because when everyone else, my friends included, were asking me for the HoN person, that quiet guy was diligently working in the background, always available for novice interviews, and never once asked for recognition or promotion. Those are the people you want in your important positions. Think of positions like toys - people want them, and when they have them, they play with them for a while and then get bored. Its the people who feel a sense of duty and commitment, without really caring about promotion, that will work the hardest.
Stepping down from leadership is something a lot of people struggle with. We've seen crazy long reigns in Achaea, people holding leadership for 2 - 5 RL years. You can't accuse all of them of clinging to power, some were begged not to step down by House members. I only led the CIJ for 20 IG years, but 20 years was enough for me. It wasn't simply because boredom settled in after a while, but because I didn't want my leadership to make the House feel stale, and there's no reason to cling to power when you've trained the people under you to be completely capable of handling your job.
Here's the thing - stepping down from leadership is much like accepting you're going to die someday. See, people who are afraid of dying tend to have thoughts like, "will my family go on without me?", "will my friends miss me?", "what happens after death?". People in leadership have the exact same thoughts when considering stepping down. "Will my House go to shit without my leadership?", "will anyone care about me after I've stepped down?", "will the next leader be as effective as I was?". These thoughts, I promise you, are so vastly unimportant in the grand scheme of the universe. These thoughts come from a sort of egoism, the idea that you are the glue holding together the pieces of your org. You are afraid, subconsciously or consciously, that nobody in your org is good enough to fill your shoes. This is having a huge lack of faith in your underlings. If you were a good leader, then whoever steps up after you will have learned a lot from your good leadership examples. Your House will not go to shit. The world will continue on, with or without you. Relax, and accept that you did a good job, and by passing on the torch, you are allowing fresh new life to be breathed into your org.
My final advice to any future leaders is: Read books or online essays on what makes effective leadership. Look for words of inspiration from successful company CEOs. Dabble in Buddhism and learn to appreciate that the only constant is change. Sit outside and watch leaves fall from tree branches and study and truly appreciate how each leaf falls in a beautiful unique way, for only a short time, before it suddenly stops. That perfectly summarizes our own life journey.