The Head Mod (or Leadership) Guide
Leadership can be one person, usually called the Head Mod. There is also the Co-Head Mod position, which can be two or more people. As a zine project grows larger, it is more likely there are more overall mods then led by overall more Co-Head Mods. (3 Co-Heads in a team of 9? mods might be the highest number I have seen, but it’s not something I remember accurately.).
Being a Head Mod is about being present. You are the main leadership. You need to understand the needs and expectations of the people looking towards you for instructions. Then, when decisions need to be made, the Head Mod will make it, or they’ll coordinate/delegate it.
The biggest tool a Head Mod has in their arsenal is listening, listening, and listening.
To influence people, develop listening skills.
The Section for Oddly Specific Advice
'Yes' and 'No'
Some people are good at saying yes, and some people are good at saying no. There are also people who are terrible at saying yes and terrible at saying no. The reasons for this could be infinite (didn't read, unaware of context, cultural context) but whatever it is, you need to keep an eye out for this. Someone in the team should demonstrate leadership and keep an eye out.
It's a kind of lame and avoidable situation if something happens and then the mod team is going, "I didn't realise", or "It wasn't clear", and so on.
Example 1: Miscommunication
The original message stated "react if you are available". A user left a 😢 react. It turned out the user was unavailable, however because the react was ambiguous (we talked about using unambiguous reacts in the "Organization" section), the original poster assumed the user would be available. A simple "hey User, may you please clarify what your reaction means?" could have prevented much disappointment.
This type of example is a communication issue, which means communication skills are needed to resolve it. Which means, you need to keep in mind the makeup of the mod team's members. Sometimes this leads to confrontational dialogue. Sometimes people are not in a position to be confronted. What is socially acceptable to you may not be socially acceptable to someone else in the mod team. This is a natural part of how a group figures things out. (We talked about the cycles of group formation in the "Working in a Team" section in Fundamentals.)
Don't panic or anything. Most of the time it goes ok. If this doesn't come naturally to you, you can probably find someone in your life who is a natural mediator. Go ask them for help.
Example 2: Mismanagement
A person is doing many tasks at once. This person has taken on more obligations than they may be able to handle. You, another mod, are worried that because they are always saying "yes", they may not deliver on all the results.
As a forewarning, diagnosing these situations is very difficult. People are all different. You know that already, I am just repeating it in bold type to help us be on the same page right now. It's part of how I personally avoiding assumptions. There is a chance you read this whole page, choose to work differently, and that is fine.
The most important part is to clarify what your own worries are. Are you speaking about them personally, or is it an issue with the work being assigned and/or left behind?
The 1st one is what comes up a lot when working with friends and family - knowing personal facts about someone influences your judgement. Like how relatives should not be doctors. You need to take a step back (create distance), take a break (very important), and check your own assumptions. Venting carries the risk that original conclusions become more entrenched. Do some exercise? The goal is to come back with as clear a mind as possible.
The 2nd one is directly related to the team's management. Will discuss more under "delegation", it's a whole other topic.
Of course there are nuances and it can be both. Hopefully this question helps you take a first step on the resolution path.
Delegation is hard. Sometimes delegating too little can end up in worrying. Sometimes delegating too much also ends up in worrying. We just can't win. It's tough.
Like everything about leadership, there's a lot of online advice articles about delegation. When you're feeling stuck, look some up.
This small section here is in revision and will specifically address the community that tends to make these zines.
Hello, it's nice to see you too. Maybe this happens a lot.
This is the one section where we suggest to stop looking things up. Maybe go back to yourself. Do whatever self-care means to you, or if that's not working, try out some other kind of self-care you haven't tried before. The deeper you can sink your roots, the less likely you will fall down in a storm. Build those roots up.
That's all I have to say on this one. There has never been another generation which has had to deal with navigating so much data. Honestly, our brains are processing so much all the time, it's really amazing somehow.
I'm sure you will figure out the best way forward for yourself.
Ownership and buy-in are two different ways to get things going, and are not limited to Head Mods. If you’re encountering difficulties right now, try looking them up. (The search term “team” or “leadership” or “community” may need to be added to get a wider range of results.)
Tip: If you aren't doing it already, look up variations of your specific problem on the internet for advice. e.g. "how do i deliver bad news", "how do i deliver bad news to an employee", "how do i deliver bad news to my boss", "how do i tell bad news to someone who isn't listening", ...
For new Head Mods, this page of Slumber’s guide contains a non-exhaustive list of objectives which comprise the creation of a zine.
We are planning on making a “Help! My Zine Caught On Fire” guide after this one. In the meantime you can contact us / subscribe to our list for help or to be notified.