Genghis Khan and website management

If Genghis Khan was alive today, what would his management style be in managing a large corporate website? Surprisingly, he practised modern management principles 900 years ago!

Although Genghis Khan (more properly known as Chinggis Khan) is mainly thought of in negative terms in the West, he is one of history's more charismatic and dynamic leaders. OK, he may have killed a few million in his time, pillaged widely and raped at will. People even called him tyrannical. But he practised 21st century management principles.

Here are seven reasons why I think he was a good manager and compare it to how I manage corporate websites.

Thinking things through
Decisive decision making
Change is good
Honesty and loyalty
Promotion on merit
Profit sharing
Office politics

 

Thinking things through

Genghis was a great thinker. He would research his enemies meticulously before a big punch-up. All his intelligence would be scrupulously scrutinised before he planned a battle. He understood what motivated his enemies.

I also take my time when planning new content or structure for the website. What am I trying to achieve? What’s the current position? Do I need to do a SWOT analyses? What resources do I need? Who is the key stakeholder in a project?

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Decisive decision making

You certainly couldn’t accuse Genghis of being a weak decision maker! When he made his mind up, that was it. He would quickly communicate this to his generals and expected quick action.

That’s the same for me. My decision-making process follows three steps:

I will look at all options, investigate all possibilities and then recommend to you the best solution.

Your success is my success.
 

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Change is good

Genghis wasn’t afraid of change. If a new idea came his way, he would try it. During the siege of Beijing (which killed a few million people), he captured a few Chinese engineers and made them copy the new weapons the Chinese had developed. He quickly adapted to their technological innovations.

On the web, I will do the same (can’t guarantee to capture any new web developers). However, I won’t change things for the sake of it. Don’t tell me to change a page because it looks pretty.
 

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Honesty and loyalty

Genghis insisted on honesty and loyalty from his subjects. He put trust in his generals, such as Muqali, Jebe and Subudei, and gave them free rein in battles. He allowed them to make decisions on their own when they embarked on campaigns far from the Mongol capital of Karakorum.

As companies become more and more "virtual," loyalty and trust are increasingly an important value to have. In my experience, a great way to gender this is to pay attention to what motivates your team and how to enrich their jobs. Look at training, flexible working, empowerment and better working environment. The list goes on and on!

I can’t guarantee a company's future. However, I can give my team a predictable relationship with the company, a predictable agenda, predictable ways to succeed, and predictable rewards if they do succeed.

And the company, predictable profits!
 

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Promotion on merit

Genghis was a son of peasants. Bit like me. So he appreciated that talent can be found in all classes of society. If you did well when working for him, you got promoted. Class didn’t matter.

That’s the same for the websites I manage. My attitude is that you are smarter than me when it comes to your content. That then makes me look smart. I will always respect your expertise.

In return, please respect my expertise in managing a website. If I recommend a particular way of doing something, it’s because in my expert opinion, that’s the best course of action.
 

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Profit sharing

Genghis believed in profit sharing. This meant his employees (his army) were recognised for their hard work and were rewarded accordingly.

I can’t do profit sharing managing a corporate website. I don’t get any of the money it generates. But I will recognise people who make a valuable contribution to it. If appropriate, I will publicly show my appreciation.
 

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Office politics

Genghis loved a bit of office gossip - if only to gather intelligence on his enemies. But that’s as far he would go. He hated dirty office politics and backstabbing. If caught, it’s off to have a bath in large tub of boiling water.

That’s the same on the website (not the boiling water bit). It’s nice to know what others (your enemies?) are planning so you know the lay of the land. It makes for better decision making. But if you start to get dirty, I will place a load of missing links on your web page.

Finally, Genghis believed that he was anointed by God to conquer the world. This made him invincible.

That’s the same for me.

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