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Sentient Leadership

A Leader, among other things, is someone who not only understands a transcendent vision, but has so integrated it into their life to the extent that they not only embody it, but are able to impart it to others in such a way that they are also able to do the same.

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Latin: sentient, sentiens, present participle of sentire to perceive, feel. First Known Use: 1632

1. Responsive to or conscious of sense impressions "sentient beings"
2. Aware
3. Finely sensitive in perception or feeling

Adverb: sen•tient•ly


"Sentient Leadership" is a term that has been coined by the author to describe the leadership model that arises out of the understanding and application of John Boyd's OODA Loop and IOHAI principles of Insight, Orientation, Harmony, Agility and Initiative.

When you take the full meaning of the definition of "sentient" it can be seen that it encapsulates the most critical aspects of the OODA Loop - Orientation and Observation.

Similarly, as with IOHAI it also summarises Insight and Orientation. When the finer nuances of the meaning are taken into account and added to initiative it can be seen that it adds up to a 'situational awareness' that, when accurate, not only presupposes, but guarantees harmony and agility.

This beccomes even more apparent when compared with some of the synonyms for sentient (below) and particularly when contrasted with the antonyms - "how not to do it" - which aptly describe the type of leadership that arises in any system where promotion or leadership selection is based on rank or status rather than merit.

There are two core foundation principles of Sentient Leadership - Character and Competence.


Character is the starting point of good leadership. The supremacy of "doing over being" as Boyd would put it, though in this context reversing the order would sound more appropriate with the original intent of what he meant. Character does not simply provides the best motives for leadership. It also determines both how and why the compentencies are exercised. Morever, character is not just essential for success in leadership - it is essential to success in life. In "The 7 Habts of Highly Successful People" Stephen Covey refers to a paradigm shift in over 200 years of personal development / self improvement literature. For the first 150 years from the end of the C18th he describes how all the available literature was concerned with character development. However in the last 60 years or so the focus has shifted to personality and success, with emphasis on quick results.


While not as important as character, competence is neverthless just as indispensable for a leader. It is a given that incompetent leadership in the military usually poses almost as great a danger to people's safety as the enemy. In the rest of life incompetent leaders invariably leave a legacy of failure in their particular field that at best hinders potential and at worst destroys organisations, families and lives.

†Related to Sentient
Synonyms: alive, apprehensive, aware, cognizant, mindful, sensible, conscious, ware, witting
Antonyms: insensible, oblivious, unaware, unconscious, unmindful, unwitting
Related Words: alert, attentive, careful, cautious, heedful, observant, open-eyed, regardful, safe, vigilant, wary, watchful, wide-awake; hyperaware, hyperconscious
Near Antonyms: careless, heedless, inattentive, incautious, mindless, unguarded, unheeding, unwary


"Sentient of the danger posed by the approaching hurricane"

"The living knew themselves just sentient puppets on God's stage" (T.E. Lawrence).


"....I began to feel more and more that much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes -- with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily -- but left the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and again. In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years or so focused on what could be called the character ethic as the foundation of success -- things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule."

Stephen R. Covey, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" P.7-8

Peter Hermann

Peter Hermann owns and operates his own company, Living Loans which specialises in Mortgage Broking and Capital Raising.

He has been an avid researcher into military strategy and history and maintains a keen interest in, among other things, theology, philosophy and emergency management.

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"Seeing what others do not see is called brilliance, knowing what others do not know is called genius." Huainanzi