The difference between a Manager and a Leader is that a Manager directs, and a Leader inspires.
A Leader will have a vision and goals…keep their cool…encourage risk-taking…invite dissent…simplify situations…care about people…and deal honestly with others. A Leader’s traits include wisdom, self-confidence, determination, integrity, sociability, and emotional intelligence.
Being the DM is more about inspiring than it is about directing. As the storyteller you are creating a place of fascination and possibility and conflict and reward. You are the source and the wellspring of this vision of a fantasy setting, and you unveil this to the players.
Lead the players and follow their lead. Keep the group on track but do not push them in a direction. Instead, let them explore and lead them back if they stray too far from where the story needs them to be.
A friend, E.B., once meditation with Buddhist monks. She found it difficult to focus her mind, as her thoughts naturally wandered to shopping and friends and other distractions. She admitted this to a monk, who smiled and told her this problem was called “monkey-mind”. The secret, he said, was not holding back the scampering monkey of our consciousness – the secret was bringing it back every time it inevitably wanders.
Be a shepherd and not a fence.
You are the ultimate authority in your game. Possess this role. Your vision is the game’s vision. The confidence and faith you have in your ability as DM will strengthen your game. Be honest in your role and sure of your purpose. Read your players and respond to their needs, both spoken and implied. Adjust and adapt. Improvise and react. Recognize the synergy between the DM and engaged players. Reward skill and intuition, and let misfortune bring due consequences.
Be the means through which a player accomplishes great things with his or her character.