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Episode 28: Leading with Emotional Intelligence with Derek Gaunt


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Topics Covered:

01:51 – Derek shares  how he got into the field of hostage negotiation

02:50 – A summary of his journey from his law enforcement career to becoming a negotiation trainer and personal coach

05:20 – An interesting fact about Derek that most people don’t know about him

06:22 – Sharing a defining moment that inspired him to push his law enforcement career and help people get better

10:02 – Connecting the practices and principles of hostage negotiation to business negotiation

10:53 – An excerpt from the book To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink and relating it to their job as hostage negotiators

13:39 – Explaining compliance further and connecting it to value propositions

15:15 – How people are responding to the message of his book Ego, Authority, Failure: Using Emotional Intelligence Like a Hostage Negotiator to Succeed as a Leader by Derek Gaunt

18:12 – The difference between manipulation and influences

19:36 – The relationship between ego and authority

20:42 – The principles that Derek goes through with leaders

25:42 – Discussing the importance of labels in engaging in discussions

33:48 – How to engage someone already predisposed to a dialogue

34:54 – How Derek sharpens his saw

35:58 – His advice to his 20-year old self

39:20 – James wraps up the episode inviting the audience to get a copy of Derek’s book


Key Takeaways: 

“Hostage negotiators are the ultimate compliance professionals on the planet because we sell jail time, and we get people to buy it all of the time without compromise.  We influence people to change their behavior without giving anything up. And so that’s what we wanted to take to the business.” – Derek Gaunt

“At the end of the day, it’s the human nature response that we’re trying to get our arms around.  To be able to predict the human nature response will put you at a distinct advantage to improve morale, create a better work environment, more collaborative and high performing teams. If you understand first and foremost, it’s not about you.  It’s not about your goal and your objective. It’s about how circumstances in the delivery of the message are going to be viewed by the recipient. And once you understand that and once you understand what’s important to them, what they value, then you understand them. And if you understand them, you’re in a better position to move them in the direction that you want them to go without damaging the relationship, which is the biggest hurdle for leaders.”– Derek Gaunt

“There are a lot of parallels between leadership and hostage negotiation. It’s how you treat people. Do they feel that they matter? Do they feel like they care about them, that you care about them at all?  In your negotiations, it’s all about listening and showing some empathy.” – Derek Gaunt

“Take care of the negatives before they are spoken.” – Derek Gaunt

“Don’t rely on just one skill to get you by.  Start using combinations.” – Derek Gaunt

I would go back and tell the 20-year old [Derek] to be patient. Your time will come. But in the meantime, be a sponge.  Whatever your interest is, become a student of the game. Desire without a plan is a wish. And so, understand what your plan is going to be. How are you going to do it? And then immerse yourself in things related to the direction in which you want to go. Make it so that when the time for selection comes or hiring or promotion, they have no other choice. It’s your job to make the decision to bring you onboard to promote you or to select you. It’s impossible for them not to do.” – Derek Gaunt

Resources Mentioned


Connect with Derek Gaunt


Connect with James Rosseau Sr.


Full Biography of Derek Gaunt

Derek Gaunt is lecturer, author of Ego, Authority, Failure, and a trainer with 29 years of law enforcement experience, 20 of which as a team member, leader and then commander of hostage negotiations teams in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He is a hostage negotiation and incident command subject matter expert who frequently speaks at hostage negotiations and SWAT conferences across the country.

Derek’s passion for interpersonal communications began when he was selected as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Section of a municipal police agency. He spent the majority of his law enforcement career in the Criminal Investigations Section as a detective, supervisor and eventually commander of major crimes.

In 1997, he took his passion for interpersonal communications to the next level, becoming a hostage negotiator. Once he became a supervisor, his passion transitioned from “doing” to teaching the concepts to others.

As a member of the Black Swan Group, he is a negotiation trainer and personal coach. Derek has trained throughout the US and around the world, instructing business organizations on how to apply hostage negotiations practices and principles to their world.

Derek presents seminars and in-house training programs in a variety of environments. His presentations are engaging and filled with useful techniques for understanding human behavior and navigating difficult conversations. His training has helped leaders and their organizations increase their performance by changing the way they think about communicating one person to another.

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