Thursday, April 15, 2010

Elyssa Durant, Ed.M.
Nashville, Tennessee
(615) 424-8810

"You may not care how much I know, but you don't know how much I care."


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Elyssa Durant <>
Date: Sat, Jun 14, 2008 at 2:16 PM
Subject: - Sent Using Google Toolbar

The other day, you sent me an e-mail about Ghengis Kahn.  I did some research and found the information below very interesting. 
I now understanding what you expect from me, however, I do in fact have a couple of questions for you.  I will forward them to shortly.  I need to take a computer break...

Management Lessons from Ghengis Khan

As the summer draws to a close, it's a good time to step back and take the long view. In this case, the view goes all the way back to 1200 AD. My daughter's high school summer reading included an intriguing book entitled: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford. The great Khan's name probably does not come to mind when you think of the world's management innovators. Indeed, most of us think of the "Mongol Hordes" as a scourge of civilization, a brutal and merciless force that arose in the far deserts of China and swept westward in a destructive path. There's some truth to that image, but a huge dose of western-centric prejudice as well.

Weatherford has set out to revise the historical perspective on Khan. He sees him as a great innovator, a master strategist and a brilliant manager. As the first person to unite the Mongol tribes, Khan created the largest and last of the great nomadic powers, conquering all the way from India to the gates of the west.

While Weatherford has made no attempt to translate Kahn's experience into lessons for today's managers, the Insider has leapt into the void and done just that. Here are a few of the management lessons that emerge from a reading of Weatherford's book:

Reward merit: Khan moved away from hereditary privilege by promoting his most talented followers. As a result, his organization benefitted from the best talent, not just Khan's relatives.
Discipline is key: demand self-control and discipline from every warrier and every leader. He abolished the long-established practice of stealing wives, which fragmented the tribes into warring camps. After a conquest, the spoils were carefully inventoried and then divided for the benefit of all.
Organize, Organize, Organize: Contrary to the "mongol horde" image, Khan developed a meticulous system for organizing his army. Using a sequence of tens, his basic unit was a squad of 10 warriers, united in a company of 10 squads, eventually reaching an army of multiple thousands. Every camp had the same physical lay out, so messengers could move from camp to camp and find the leadership without the delay of having to ask directions.
Turn your opponents strengths into a weakness, part one: confronted with great walled cities, Khan built a higher wall of logs around the outer wall of the city, so his men could look down into the city and strike fear in the hearts of its people.
Turn your opponents strengths into a weakness, part two: Khan would have his armies flee in mock terror of armed knights. The knights, in all their splendid (and cumbersome) gear, would pursue his army to the point of exhaustion. Khan's disciplined warriers then swung back and easily obliterated the bewildered knights. Khan's destruction of the princes of Russia was a blow from which that country never recovered.
Use psychology and trickery: Khan's amassed troops might prepare for battle with an eerie silence, spooking their opponents. Khan's troops would light multiple fires, so they appeared to have more troops than they actually did. Using selective violence, Khan struck terror into the hearts of his opponents, while offering all but the leaders an opportunity to join his ranks.
Be fast: Khan never used an infantry. All his warriers were on horseback and all carried or acquired their own provisions as they rode. They didn't need a long baggage train. They crossed the desert in winter, to minimize the need for water. They tightly wrapped their bodies in scarves to keep internal organs from bouncing around during their 60 mile a day rides. His warriers wore leather, not metal armor, so they were much more mobile than their western counterparts.
Embrace new technologies. Khan invited his captives to join him. In this manner, he brought in skilled masons, architects, engineers and writers whom he encountered in both the far east and the west.
Have faith in your own faith, but be tolerant of others: Unique among leaders of his time, Khan tolerated all religions. While confident in his own faith, he tolerated the faiths of others. He even sponsored perhaps the first religious debate in history. By contrast, Louis IX of France, convinced that the mongols were the lost tribe of Israel, punished Jews in France with extraordinary brutality - for which, naturally, he was dubbed "St. Louis."

To be sure, Khan's own legendary brutality severely limits his utility as a role model for contemporary managers. He was fond of rolling his opponents into carpets and stashing them beneath his tent floor, where they starved to death. He was known to use catapults to hurl men, women and children over the walls of a beseiged city. He rounded up peasants from the countryside, pushing them ahead of his troops to absorb the first blows of his opponents and to fill up the moats in front of walled cities. Upon capturing a city, he immediately slew all the leaders and all of the wealthy.

Admittedly, this is not exactly an "I'm OK, You're OK" approach to leadership. (Then again, it might remind some people of "Chainsaw" Al Dunlop, the legendary CEO of Sunbeam Corp.) In any event, Genghis Khan cast a long, long shadow in history, so in the waning days of summer, we thought it was worth a few moments to reflect on some of the innovations he brought to the ever-evolving menu of management tools.


  a personal HISTORY of GHENGIS KHAN   

  adapted by Footprints from various sources   

other Footprints pages

This page: 

Footprints Mongolian history & facts
Footprints Mongolia tour
site map
Early years  Early conquests 
'Ghengis Khan'  'Khan of Khans'
death   accomplishments 


Genghis Khan, or Ghengis Khan as he is more widely known, was born about the year 1162 to a Mongol chieftain, Yesugei, and his wife. He was born with the name of Temujin which means 'iron worker' in his native language. When Temujin was born his fist was clutching a blood clot which was declared an omen that he was destined to become a heroic warrior.
Very little is known of Temujin until he was around age 13 when his father declared that his son was to find a fiancée and get married. After several days of travel Temujin and Yesugei came across a tribe of Mongols that were very hospitable and welcoming. Temujin was not there long when he noticed a certain girl, Bortei the daughter of the chieftain. She was destined to become his wife.
Temüjin's father died when Temüjin was still young, poisoned by a group of Tatars. The Tatars were the chief power on the eastern Mongolian steppe at the time, and long- time rivals of the Mongols. When Temujin heard how his father had died, vowed one day to revenge the death.
Temujin left Bortei , returned to his tribe, with the intention to declare himself leader. At this time he was 13 years of age. Senior members of the tribe ridiculed his plans; rejected him as chief, and abandoned the youngster and his family to the Mongolian plains. While there were noble lineages among the Mongols, such as Temüjin's, they did not enjoy the automatic loyalty of others on the steppe. Nor did seniority guarantee a position of influence or power. Leadership seems to have often been a more informal institution, open to those with the right to contest for it. As a result of this rejection, Temujin extended his vengeful intentions to his own clan members.
Life was very hard for the family. It is related that when Temujin discovered his own brother stealing food from the group had no hesitation in killing him. News that he was a stern leader that would kill his own brother to keep order became widely known.
On a hunting trip he was ambushed by an enemy tribe and taken prisoner. While prisoner he killed his guard and escaped. The enemy searched, but excellent survival skills kept him alive until he could meet up with his own tribe. This act of courage spread his name to all parts of the Mongolian plains. Shortly after, another raid by strangers left the family with one horse and very little food. Temujin took chase but could not catch them. During his chase he met up with Bogurchi, the son of a rich man, who would become a blood- brother and trusted ally. Bogurchi helped Temujin retrieve the stolen horses but the thieves escaped. Word of these exploits became greatly exaggerated to thus enhance his reputation even further.
After four years, the time had come to marry Bortei. As a wedding present her father gave him a very rare black sable fur. This gift proved to be one of the most important assets ever given to Temujin. Temujin used it to persuade Togrul, his fathers sworn-brother, to join him in revenge attacks against the Tatars and other Mongol enemies. Togrul agreed to join and reconcile all of Temujin's fathers men.


Temujin was now aged seventeen. Already his road to glory had begun. Word of Temujin and Togrul spread far and wide. They called all Mongols to unite and defeat their enemies. Thousands of people came bringing weapons, food, and families. Temujin now had thousands of people under his command.
The army became highly organised. They were divided into groups of tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands. Each soldier carried his own food which usually consisted of powdered yak milk and dried milk and when food was scarce the soldiers would open up a vein of their horse to drink its blood.

  becomes 'GHENGIS KHAN' 

In 1183 the Mongols that gathered declared Temujin their great Khan, giving him the name Genghis. At this time, he was still a junior member of the lineage, and his election is thus somewhat of a surprise. It may well have been an attempt by senior members of the lineage to install a Khan they thought they could control. This political maneuvering was not spectacularly successful.
The meaning of Genghis, or Ghengis, is widely debated. Some say it means "precious warrior", others indicate "spirit of light". In any case, it meant power for Genghis and an empire to command. Ghengis is credited with the creation of the Ih Zasag (' the Great Law', usually rendered into English as "The Great Yasa".) Although portrayed as a codified set of laws, this is debatable. Some scholars have suggested that the Ih Zasag was in fact a codification of existing steppe customs.
Despite Temujin being declared Khan, the Mongol people were not completely united into one entity. It took several campaigns to consolidate his position. The Keraits were led by a boyhood friend of Genghis's called Jamuga. Genghis offered Jamuga the change to surrender. This offer was declined and several great battles resulted. The first in 1201 nearly destroyed all Jamuga's forces; with the final destruction of the Kerait army in 1203. Jamuga asked to be put to death without his blood being spilled. Genghis honored his old friend by having him beaten and suffocated between two felt blankets without spilling blood. The last rogue Mongol clan was defeated in 1204.

"The greatest happiness is
to vanquish your enemies,
to chase them before you,
to rob them of their wealth,
to see those dear to them
bathed in tears, to clasp to
your bosom their wives
and daughters"

  'KHAN of KHANS' 

It was not until 1206 that Genghis was named Khan of Khans or King of Kings and king of 'all people who lived in felt tents'. With all of the Mongol tribes united and under his control he could now concentrate his forces on expanding his empire.
In 1207 he began a crusade to conquer the lands of China. At that time China was divided into three separate empires. They were the Qin, Tangut empires in the north and the Sung Empire in the South. He himself led battles against the Tangut state in what is now present day Xinjiang (northwest China), and the Qin in northern China, taking Peking in 1215. However, although most of northern China was under Mongol control Genghis's dream to dominate all Chinese territory would be achieved but occur until the reign his grandson Kublai Khan in 1279.
With northern China under his control he now turned his attention westward. In 1218, the Khwarazm (modern Uzbekistan) Shah, Mohammed II, slaughtered a Mongolian caravan and a following delegation of ambassadors. This precipitated Chinghis's attacks on Central Asia, although in any case it may well have been merely a matter of time before he attacked. Genghis sent a message to their leader Shah Mohammed, saying that the governor must be turned over to the Mongols or war would be declared on Kwarezm.
The Kwarezm Empire refused and war was declared. Genghis led an attack force of 90,000 men from the north and he sent a general with 30,000 men to attack from the east. Despite this large army he was outnumbered by the Shah's army more than 400,000 men. Genghis's army was victorious, allowing a full scale invasion and occupation of the Kwarezm Empire. From this campaign the Mongols acquired the knowledge of the "fire that flies", burning arrows. And with subsequent victories new methods of warfare were used to made his armies stronger and more deadly.
An army of 20,000 was then sent toward Russia. In 1223 that group of 20,000 Mongol warrior's devastated a Russian army of 80,000. This was the beginning of what would become known in Russian history as the 'Tatar Yoke.' Events which influenced the Russian empire until present times. The Mongols quickly fought there way through Russia and into Europe. Their armies destroyed entire cities in Russia, Hungary and Poland leaving devastation in their wake.


In 1227, Genghis Khan, a master horse rider fell from his horse during a hunt. He was severely injured and died shortly after.

With Heaven's aid I have conquered for you a huge empire.
But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That is left for you.
--Genghis Khan, to his sons at the end of his life

His body was taken back to his birthplace, northeast of Ulaanbaatar. According to legend, anyone meeting the funeral procession was killed, so no one would know of Ghengis's death. The cart carrying his body is said to have bogged down in the Ordos region of China, and only began moving again after the prayers to his spirit by one of his followers not to abandon his people. As a result, however, a shrine was built in the Ordos region. A herd of horses was said to have been driven back and forth over his grave in Hentei to obscure it, and soldiers were posted until trees grew over the area. To this day, however it is not really known where the ruler of the world's largest empire is actually buried.
Upon his death the main expansionist phase of Mongol conquest ended as the armies returned home to elect a new Khan. The vast empire, now came under the banner of his son Ogadai. It was divided into three, with each region controlled by another son of Ghengis.


While normally thought of as a despot Ghengis Khan was also generous and loyal. A highly charismatic man, he nonetheless also expected loyalty from everyone, including those who served his opponents. He is reputed to have put to death people who, thinking they would gain his good graces, betrayed their lords to him.
In the West, it is usually Ghengis's brilliance as a military commander that is dwelt upon. And indeed, this attention is deserved. It should be noted, however, that certain misconceptions appear to linger concerning the Mongols. They did not, in fact, invent the tactics they used with such effectiveness against their enemies, such as the feigned retreat. Rather, they brought to a new level old steppe nomad military tactics. Even Ghengis's much vaunted organization of the military on a decimal system was to be found among the Xiong-nu, although arranging it to cut across lineages, and thus ensure greatly loyalty to the leader, apparently was an innovation.
Innovative too, was Ghengis's tendency to pluck people from the ranks. Although noble birth may well have given one a headstart, one could only be assured of advancement through the ranks based on ability and loyalty. In present-day Mongolia, it is not so much his military attributes that are emphasized, but rather his administrative abilities.
One should further be aware that although we talk of the "Mongol" army, the reality is more complicated. The commanders were indeed "Mongol" (even defining Mongol in this context can be tricky), but the soldiers were drawn from allies and conquered areas. Engineers from conquered sedentary populations were put into action as siege experts, and even the cavalry was a mixture of Mongol and other nomadic groups.
The success of the Mongol conquests should also be attributed at least in part to two other factors. One was military intelligence. The Mongols had a extensive network of spies and usually had extensive information of an enemy before they engaged them in battle. The other was their use of psychological warfare. Much is made of the total destruction of cities in Central Asia by the Mongols. What is normally overlooked, however, is that this was more of an exception than a rule. If a city capitulated, Ghengis Khan was usually content to let them be, once their defences had been pulled down. Only those who resisted faced the sword. This not only wiped out resistance, but more importantly, word quickly spread of the wrath of Ghengis Khan, and many peoples found it easier to submit than to resist.

All who surrender will be spared;

Posted via email from ElyssaD's Posterous

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