Photo Courtesy of Brent Darnell
PowerPoints are gone in Darnells approach to mastering emotional intelligence.


Describing one participant in his pioneering construction leadership program, Brent Darnell says, "He was a very tough guy, a driver of results and a valuable employee, but he was leaving dead bodies in his wake." But, Darnell says, the manager "transformed himself and created some great relationships internally and externally that now drive future business."

While long a construction staple, fearless alpha males may become an endangered species in a more competitive, team-focused and client-centric industry. "We are no longer in the project delivery business. We are a service industry, " Darnell says.

The Georgia Tech-trained engineer and former contractor manager connects his "emotional intelligence" training approach to business success through client consulting, new editions of his popular primers such as The People-Profit Connection and the For Tough Guys series, as well as university teaching and multimedia tools that aim to turn the industry's alphas into real producers. Soon to come is a "total leadership" program that will be open to employees of companies that are not clients.

"It's become part of our company culture to become more aware of yourself and others and a springboard to push operations people into business development," says Lisa Fanto, senior vice president of Hardin Construction, a Darnell client for several years. "Brent believes in this and that brings credibility—and I'm a veteran of many training programs."

Others among Darnell's more than 75 past and present firm and industry association clients, such as AGC's Georgia branch, agree. "Brent doesn't sugarcoat," says R. Randall Hall, a program veteran who was elevated in January to president of contractor Batson-Cook Co.

Douglas C. Welling, CEO of Jacobsen Construction Co., reports that the firm's "alpha males are making great improvement, and clients and employees are responding enthusiastically."