The GM is the leader in any given party, regardless of what player has stepped up to inform him of their actions. No one leads a party or a game like the Game Master will. His influence is by far the most pervasive on any gaming table. With that in mind, using leadership skills can help you develop better adventures more efficiently.
When you begin thinking about the next adventure you’re going to write for your game, what do you do first? Do you develop a time frame and start assigning tasks to NPCs or do you think about who would prefer to do what and try to schedule around their strengths and weaknesses? When planning starts to fall behind schedule, what is your first reaction? Do you frantically being working on all aspects of the adventure at the same time, or do you give yourself a break – recognizing that you’re going to do your best and that life will intervene sometimes?
Your answers to these types of questions can reveal a great deal about your personal leadership style. Some leaders are very task-oriented; they simply want to get things done. Others are very people-oriented; they want people to be happy. – Mind Tools, questions above adapted from the same source.
What it really comes down to is, are you goal oriented in your adventure writing or player oriented? Both styles have strengths and weaknesses and both can make for excellent games but a combination of the two will create an adventure your players will still be telling stories about in 10 or 15 years.
It’s useful to understand what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then working on developing skills that you may be missing. – Mind Tools
I personally am a very goal and story oriented designer. While I care about my players and understand they’re going to have different priorities than I do, I run games in the first place to be able to tell the story in my head. This can and has been a problem at times. Understanding this has helped me to work with my players so that both of us can enjoy the campaign, both so they don’t feel railroaded and so I can show them the awesome ideas I’ve developed.
In Part 2, we’re going to look at some styles of Game Mastering so we know what kind we are and where we need improvment.