Derek Gaunt

Derek Gaunt
Derek Gaunt is lecturer, author of Ego, Authority, Failure, and 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. As a member of the Black Swan Group, he is a negotiation trainer and personal coach. His training has helped leaders and their organizations increase their performance by changing the way they think about communicating one person to another.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

Infographic: 7 Characteristics of Effective Leadership

By Derek Gaunt | September 22, 2020

Most of us have either been there ourselves or have heard someone else say some form of the following: “The job was great, but I couldn’t work for my boss anymore so I decided to look for something new.”

Read More >

5 Reasons Fear-Based Leadership Is Ineffective

By Derek Gaunt | September 07, 2020

Show me a leader who uses fear to get the troops in line, and I’ll show you a toxic environment.

Unfortunately, far too many leaders use fear to get their employees to do their bidding. Maybe the leader constantly reminds employees about the company’s dire finances during COVID and suggests that it’s only a matter of time before someone needs to be let go. Or maybe the leader enjoys calling out an employee’s mistakes to the whole group—leading everyone to constantly worry about being embarrassed or belittled for not meeting the boss’s expectations.

Whatever the case, fear-based leadership is ineffective. There are leaders who might be tempted to use their ego and authority to torment their teams and remind them who’s boss, it’s impossible to get the best business outcomes when you take this approach. 

Read More >

What Is the Black Swan Accusation Audit™?

By Derek Gaunt | August 24, 2020

When you’re in the middle of a negotiation and the other side’s head is filled with negative thoughts and ideas, there’s a black hole vortex in their thinking. They can’t think clearly, and in many cases, they might not even be able to hear what you’re saying at all because their internal monologue is hogging the microphone.

The good news is that you can stifle these negative thoughts and make sure your counterpart is more receptive to your message by using a technique we created called the Accusation Audit™.

Read More >

How to Demonstrate Leadership Virtually

By Derek Gaunt | August 17, 2020

If you’re like many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced your organization to work remotely and embrace the virtual office.

Because of the current state of the world, practically everything is relegated to the digital environment. If you’re used to managing a team in an office setting, you might be thinking that you’ll need to adapt your approach to the new way of working.

Not so fast: When you’re leading virtually, your roles and responsibilities stay the same

There are, however, a few different tactics you may want to prioritize to help your team adjust to “the new normal.” Try them out when you’re trying to demonstrate leadership virtually.

Read More >

Communication Skills: Did You Know There Are 5 Levels of Listening?

By Derek Gaunt | August 13, 2020

This blog was originally published on 5/14/2018 and updated on 8/13/2020.

Most people who think they are good listeners underperform—by as much as 60 percent, in fact, according to some research. It turns out that overconfidence actually impedes their success. 

Being too confident actually prevents you from truly understanding the motivation of the other side, which prevents you from being able to use Tactical Empathy™ to get the outcomes you’re going for. 

Read More >

Communication Skills: How to Use a Cold Read and Accusation Audit

By Derek Gaunt | August 06, 2020

This blog was originally published on 4/17/2017 and updated on 8/6/2020.

A few years ago, I was the only hostage negotiator in a room full of SWAT guys. 

The quarterly meeting was for SWAT guys, by SWAT guys, and I was an interloper in hostile territory.

Why was I there? To request a piece of their pie. 

The SWAT group had a training operations cache of about $78,000. Because they hadn’t spent any of the money over several years, I wanted to know whether I could grab $9,000 each year to train negotiators.

I used two communication skills—a Cold Read and an Accusation Audit™—to walk out of the room with what I wanted.

Read More >

How Negotiation Tactics Work Together Like a Symphony

By Derek Gaunt | June 29, 2020

At The Black Swan Group, we teach a number of tactics that people like you can use to get better outcomes in your personal and professional lives. In our experience, our clients get the most bang for their buck when they use several of our tactics in concert with one another.

To me, conversations between people are like stews. When you’re making a stew, you’re not going to use too much salt or too many carrots or too much meat. You’re going to parse out the ingredients, using just enough of each, because the stew is the cumulative taste of a perfect balance of all of them.

Read More >

Which Are You? Boss, Manager, or Leader?

By Derek Gaunt | June 22, 2020

Just because you’re in a position of authority doesn’t mean you’re effective at your job. 

To truly get your direct reports to the next level, you need to be a committed leader who inspires everyone to do their best. Being a boss or a mere manager won’t get the job done.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the differences between each kind of authority figure—the boss, the manager, and the leader—as we rank them from worst to best.

Read More >

How to Show That You're Ready for a Leadership Role

By Derek Gaunt | May 25, 2020

In an ideal world, leadership roles would fall into your lap without any heavy lifting.

But that rarely happens. If your goal in your career is to become a leader, you have to take proactive steps. Sure, you can tell your superiors that you’re set on climbing the ladder, but as we all know, actions speak louder than words.

Becoming a leader is hard work. It takes time and it takes skill. But it also takes patience.

If you want a leadership role, here’s what to do.

Read More >

Passionate Leadership: 4 Must-Have Traits

By Derek Gaunt | May 11, 2020

We’ve all worked for bosses who weren’t exactly inspiring. Whether an individual didn’t treat you with respect or berated you is beside the point. You didn’t operate at your full potential because you didn’t have the support or the encouragement you required to do so.

You don’t want to become one of those bosses down the road. As a leader, you’re committed to your team’s success. You want to help every one of your employees get to the next level.

And that starts with passionate leadership. Here are four must-have passionate leadership traits that will help you inspire greatness in your team.

Read More >
Have questions about training, speaking engagements, or coaching?
Contact Us