Thilko Richter bio photo

Thilko Richter

I am a software craftsman with a passion for clean code and continuous learning.

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TLDR; Another blog post not containing any source code, but since leadership was a really important topic for me in the last time, I decided to publish it anyway. My conclusion: True leaders are really rare.


What is a black belt?

I practice Wun Hop Kuen Do, a modern Kung Fu style with classic Kung Fu elements as well as parts from Kickboxing, Karate and Kenbo. Besides heavy physical training, you gain mental strength in terms of feeling what your body is able to do. You learn what it means to go beyond your borders and that it matter how you perform your moves. Wun Hop Kuen Do owns a belt system going from white to black.

During my last course I felt my deep respect for the trainer which was a black belt. Thinking about I realized why:

  • A black belt acts as an example in a mental and physical way
  • He is a teacher, showing you how and why moves work
  • He gives guidance in your way of learning
  • He is a motivator

To become a black belt you have to train many many years, cross many personal borders. During the final test for a black belt you have to make exercises for more than 7 hours, writing a theoretical essay about a kung fu theme, working as guide on competitions and much more. And that´s the best: even you got the black belt, the journey is not over. You constantly work on your body, creating own katas and give the knowledge to younger trainees. Training and learning never stops.

A black belt is really a person to have respect for.

What is black belt leadership?

I saw leadership in the way a black belt act. In transferring a black belt to the business world a true leader for me is:

  • A master in problem solving
  • Truly a motivator. Not through pushing work, but showing better ways of work
  • He constantly work on his abilities, never satisfied with status quo
  • He connects people, make their work visible and show them how they work is value for the company
  • Focus on getting the work done and not idle workers
  • He constantly teach people, helping them to become a master in their field of work
  • He truly wants to help by understanding the people´s business
  • He knows when to have fear

A true leader has to work hard for his position. Try to be a black-belt in leadership and not a manager with just more power to force developers to do stupid things.

I haven´t seen many black belts out there.