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What sorts of leadership is needed in play? Here's a quick rattling-off of what I've observed.

social organizer


rules-owner and introducer

creative leader

social/procedural leader

player with specific authority

Many of these can be disconnected from one another, i.e., they don't have to be done by the same person. Also, within any one of them, the role/function can shift from person to person among the group without causing terrible traumas.

Once you figure that out, then you can stop dumping them all onto one person in a big intertwined mess of obligations.

In detail

Role-playing does need a social organizer, who typically establishes the venue, makes sure people know about it, follows up on attendance, and perhaps even provides food and beverages.

Role-playing does need a creative leader as a kind of overseer, either at the start or ongoing or both. I don’t mean a controlling dictator or over-narrator. What I'm talking about is someone who, formally or informally, is looked to by the others as a reliable judge of what to do, or how it's going when under way, in aesthetic terms. It wholly depends on the others (i.e. it's informally "elected").

Role-playing does need a social/procedural leader during play itself. The rules might say, "Now the person to the left takes the next turn," but in practice, someone real is actually monitoring whether this happens and reminding others, or correcting them.

How Authority is distributed, however, is entirely a Techniques matter and should be understand as subordinated to Leadership just as everything in that level is subordinated to everything in the Social Contract level.

A problem

Squishing them together

Not dreadful or wrong necessarily, but it’s a lot more than people realize.

A bigger problem

Confounding Leadership with Authority, which is a Techniques issue. See The GM.