Derek Gaunt

Leadership Expert. Lead Washington DC area Hostage Negotiator. Author of Ego, Authority, and Failure


Derek Gaunt is the former leader and commander of hostage negotiations teams in Washington DC for 20 years, the author of Ego, Authority, Failure. Derek is ​a lecturer, coach, author, and trainer with 29 years of law enforcement experience.

He is a hostage negotiation and incident command subject matter expert, well versed in de-escalating emotions and returning people to a normal functioning level for better decision-making and behavioral change. Derek’s passion for interpersonal communications began when he was selected as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Section of a municipal police agency.

Derek 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.

Derek frequently speaks at hostage negotiations conferences across the country. He is now working for the Black Swan Group, strategic business advisory company, traveling the US and around the world, instructing organizations in how to apply hostage negotiations practices and principles to the business world.
He has delivered seminars, workshops, and in-house training to a variety of corporate clients including ​Jetblue, Google, Facebook, Harris and Kronos. He has also instructed at national and international business schools. His presentations are engaging and filled with useful techniques for understanding human behavior to improve ​relationships and accelerate business outcomes.


Focus: Interpersonal Communications, Information Gathering, Influence

How do emotions drive human behavior and decision-making? What can you do about it? Negotiations are nothing more than difficult conversations. Navigating difficult conversations with people who are driven by emotional factors requires understanding the human nature response. Ignore human nature at your own peril. Executives, managers, indeed all of the personnel within your organization need to ask, what is the road map to what causes a counterpart’s decision or behavior? How do we best navigate that road? By uncovering the drivers. Once you can decipher what the drivers are, people become predictable.

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