7 Leadership Traits and Qualities of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan is a famous historical figure. A cruel, all-powerful tyrant or a visionary leader with revolutionary ideas well ahead of his time. But what leadership skills did he have?

These are the most important leadership traits and qualities of Genghis Khan:

He was intelligent

Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire in many ways other than military conquest. He recognized the significance of commerce and crafts to the Mongols' economic existence and actively fostered both.

He ordered that the Uyghur Script be adopted as the Mongol Empire’s writing system. He promoted religious tolerance across the Mongol Empire. He established the Yam, one of the earliest worldwide postal networks.

Official riders might go up to 125 miles per day on average, thanks to relay stations supplied with food, lodging, and extra horses. Marco Polo notably utilized the service later in his life.

Though Genghis Khan never committed to any of the faiths, he was fascinated with Daoism since it was said to extend life. He allegedly said that his heavenly purpose (to dominate the globe) had not been completed on his deathbed.

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"Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard."
Genghis Khan

He adopted technology

Along with the bow, it was reported that each of his men received a silk shirt so that if an arrow pierced it, the shirt would not be damaged. When the arrow entered the body, it carried the silk along, making it simpler to extract the shaft and minimize the damage.

During his invasion of China, Genghis Khan encountered a formidable obstacle: the Great Wall, which must have seemed invincible.

Nonetheless, with the help of the defecting Chinese engineers, his generals learned to construct catapults and battering rams, the implements of siege warfare, and overcome the most significant artificial impediment at the time.

“I taught my soldiers to assault with the speed of the wind; now they must acquire the wolf’s cunning,” he said. Their extensive communication network may have been their most effective technical weapon. Genghis Khan created a network of roads connected by staging sites that allowed a messenger to traverse 125 miles in one day.

This kept Genghis Khan apprised of military and political events and enabled his kingdom to communicate with extraordinary speed and precision, establishing one of the oldest mail systems in the world.

He was a disciplinarian

Every soldier was supplied with a bow, arrows, a shield, a knife, and a lasso by Genghis Khan. The bow was composed of wood and animal bone and had a 500-yard shooting range.

He also required them to carry enormous saddlebags with food, tools, and extra clothing. The saddlebag was watertight and could be inflated to act as a life raft for crossing rivers with strong currents and great depth.

Cavalrymen were armed with a short sword, a lance, and a battle-ax or mace, with a hook for dismounting opponents. Archery and equestrian training became necessary for everyone, even children.

They diligently practiced releasing their arrows right as the horse’s feet left the ground for the best precision. They could control a galloping horse only with their legs, freeing their hands to fire arrows.

The whole army was also accompanied by a well-organized supply system consisting of oxcarts bringing food for both troops and animals and military equipment, shamans for spiritual and medical treatment, and officials to inventory the loot.

The success of Genghis Khan as a military commander demonstrates the significance of discipline. He subjected his warriors to rigorous and intense military training.

As a result, the Mongols were deadly in their assaults, defeating most of their adversaries and almost capturing the whole known globe.

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"An action comitted in anger is an action doomed to failure."
Genghis Khan

He was an analytical strategist

The early success of the Mongol army was largely attributable to his excellent military tactics and comprehension of his adversaries' motives. He used a vast network of spies and was fast to absorb new technology from his adversaries.

He assembled a well-trained Mongol army of warriors to advance using a complex signaling system of smoke and torches. Large drums were used to signify charges, and flag signals were used to communicate additional instructions.

Genghis Khan went west in the summer of 1204 to fight his blood brother Jamukha. He summoned his generals and informed them, “A single tribe is like a single arrow; it is easily broken, but many tribes together are powerful and cannot be broken.”

In addition to delivering rousing speeches, Genghis Khan engaged in psychological warfare. He was aware that Jamukha scouts would be observing. Then, he instructed each soldier to start five fires.

The scouts reported that the army of Genghis Khan had more flames than there were stars in the sky. He moved his troops forward in quiet, reserving battle cries for the end.

His archers unleashed a hail of arrows as the enemy approached, and his cavalry assaulted mercilessly.

In addition, he kept squadrons and weaponry in reserve until the enemy was in disorder, at which point they reassembled and charged. According to the Secret Mongols' history, each approach was methodically prepared.

He had humility

Genghis Khan (born Temujin) was a humble leader. He was taught numerous lessons by his mother early, including the need for solid connections to ensure Mongolia’s stability. According to accounts, Temujin started his rise to power by proposing himself as a vassal (ally) to his father’s sworn blood-brother Toghrul, Khan of the Keraites.

This bond was cemented when the Merkits tribe seized Borte. Temujin sought help from Toghrul, who supplied 20,000 of his Keraite troops and urged Temujin to enlist the help of his boyhood buddy Jamukha.

However, Jamukha subsequently separated the tribe, causing Temujin to dread division. Temujin recognized the value of forming alliances. As a result, he established a reputation not just warrior but also as a leader, gathering a rising number of followers.

He rose to power by unifying several of Northeast Asia’s nomadic tribes. In 1206, he began to pull the Mongols closer together.

In a conference of the so-called Khuriltai (a gathering of the Mongol aristocracy), they bestowed upon their leader, Temujin, the title “Genghis Khan,” which means “universal ruler.” He eventually united fighting tribes to become the strong country of Mongolia.

He was a conqueror

Temujin’s childhood was harsh and unstable. He overcame immense difficulties, such as witnessing his father’s death when he was nine years old. He was an outcast who was forced to live in poverty for many years.

He hunted to feed his family and had to murder his half-brother when he refused to share the spoils of a hunt. He was enslaved by a neighboring tribe but escaped. After his wife Borte was abducted, he planned a daring rescue mission.

These difficulties would have put immense strain on him and his family before he reached the age of 20. The tough beginnings of his childhood in the Mongolian steppe regions endowed him with both insurmountable obstacles and a tremendous will to conquer.

He was an explorer

He used a meritocratic strategy to recruit a diverse and poorer class of followers. Advancement in his military and government levels was based on merit rather than conventional lines of ancestry or race.

He placed qualified associates in crucial positions rather than kin. Genghis Khan offered residents and soldiers riches from future war gains as a reward for complete loyalty. He did not drive away enemy tribes' armies and forsake their citizens after he vanquished them.

Instead, he took over the vanquished tribe and incorporated its people into his group. His mother would even adopt orphans from the vanquished tribe, bringing them into his household.

These political innovations instilled immense loyalty in the captured population, strengthening Genghis Khan with each victory. “Men are loyal only to a great leader,” he said, and “I cared only about the power in a man’s heart; a warrior does not win a fight by birth.”

He wanted to be remembered for more than just his sword. Genghis Khan governed over one million people after uniting the steppe land clans.

To reduce the old reasons for tribal violence, he established the Yassa rule, which aimed at obedience, the unification of nomad tribes, and the ruthless punishment of misbehavior. He also removed hereditary aristocratic titles, prohibited the sale and abduction of women, prohibited the slavery of any Mongol, and made cattle theft a capital offense.

Furthermore, Genghis Khan ordered the creation of a writing system, a yearly census, diplomatic immunity for foreign diplomats, and religious freedom.

Every age has its share of intellectuals and leaders who defy convention; many fail, but some succeed, and the effects are spectacular for everybody when they do.

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"If you’re afraid – don’t do it, – if you’re doing it – don’t be afraid!"
Genghis Khan

Final verdict

Genghis Khan was a unifier as well as a ruler. As a result of his ambition, he constructed an empire that stretched from Korea to Western Russia in the north and from Burma to Iraq in the south, paving the way from the east to the west.

Even though he was renowned as a brutal conqueror, Genghis Khan was a charismatic leader in terms of leadership. He was quite explicit about his remarkable ability to use the appropriate individuals.

His strategic and organizational abilities resulted in one of history’s most disciplined armies. His leadership qualities and attributes may be implemented and contributed even to the hotel business. People might learn from him to advance in their careers.


About the Author
James has over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. As a founder, he led startup teams as well as million-dollar companies. He has recently turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass his knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments regarding the content of this post, please send us a message via the contact page.
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