Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence with Irvine Nugent

6 Minutes Read

Episode 72

Irvine Nugent believes that leadership through emotional intelligence is a journey from the inside out. If our emotional intelligence lacks, then any new business skill we attempt to implement will be adversely impacted.

He possesses fifteen-plus years in senior leadership roles in organizations of various sizes, stages of growth, and different sectors. He is experienced in challenging business environments and has worked extensively with executive and emerging leaders as an executive coach and consultant, helping them become more self-aware, manage their emotions, read the emotions, and manage their relationships.

Irvine is an internationally recognized trainer and top-rated keynote speaker and is one of the few worldwide certified FACS coders who are experts in reading facial emotions. He earned his Ph.D. from Capella University with research focused on leadership in times of crisis. He is a graduate of Georgetown University’s executive coaching program. 

Don’t miss out on this episode as Irvine shares about leadership through emotional intelligence, how it relates to your business, and how to utilize it within your leadership role.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full Episode:

  1. Why Irvine thinks emotional intelligence is vital in today’s workplace.
  2. Where does the problem initially exist with emotional intelligence? 
  3. How to deal with managing emotional triggers.

Episode Highlights

Who is Irvine Nugent 

    • He specializes in leadership through emotional intelligence. 
    • He grew up in a violent society and has been intrigued with emotional intelligence since then. 
    • His history led him to work with leaders and how they can use emotions to be better leaders.

Define Emotional Intelligence  

    • One, be self-aware and understand what emotions are taking place at that moment and what triggers them. 
    • Secondly, to know that the leader has the tools to manage their emotions for the best outcome. 
    • Third, they can read other people’s emotions and show empathy to build a connection.
    • Fourth, they use all of this to build solid relationships and have positive outcomes.

Why is emotional intelligence important in today’s workplace?

    • Irvine says to think about the most memorable leader in their life. 
    • They were caring, listening, understanding, and challenging.
    • Employees are looking for a sense of belonging to be included, and they are looking for a workplace where their voice is heard.

Where does the problem initially exist?

    • Irvine says that we have different values. 
    • Growing up in different times. 
    • Leaders should be curious, ask questions, and want to know what is essential for them.

What to do with the self-aware person, but they don’t care.

    • Irvine says that to him, it’s progress. 
    • Often he brings it to the outcome that they are looking for. 
    • He also encourages them to see what the bottom line is.

Does empathy play a role in this journey?

    • Irvine says that empathy is massive.
    • The ability to be empathetic.
    • Empathy is a superpower because you can show different types of empathy.

Irvine helps people discover their superstar power.

    • He works with leaders who have in society a negative look at emotions. 
    • Using “emotional” doesn’t mean that we are out of control. 
    • We have to keep it logical. Emotions are essential to our humanity. 

When did Irvine experience the breakdown into the breakthrough?

    • He was a Catholic Priest for ten years. 
    • He emphasized that the church didn’t change; he was the one who changed. 
    • He transitioned out and took over a CEO of several prominent social service agencies. 

What is DISC, and how does Irvine use it? 

    • DISC is an assessment that helps people become more aware of their behavioral and communication styles. 
    • He says it’s powerful because it’s a simple assessment. 
    • There can be a communication breakdown when people learn a new language to describe what’s going on. 

Natural versus adaptive 

    • It’s all about understanding that everything going on is going right. You are in a calm state of functioning. 
    • It’s important to realize that this isn’t always the case in the world of work. 
    • You are a certain person at home and a different person at work and recognize those. 

How to deal with managing emotional triggers

    • Trigger print is a set of triggers within us. 
    • Some are common to others. 
    • Irvine uses the snake going across the table. Most of us would jump back and become fearful. 
    • What is powerful for any person, not just leaders is to begin to explore the patterns of triggers. 

How does Irvine’s upbringing in the Pub translate to his work now with emotional intelligence?

    • “The Pub” is in Northern Ireland, and during the time he was there growing up, there was much violence. 
    • They created a space that anyone can go and have these vulnerable conversations. 
    • You share the stories that went wrong and then you can get support. 

The challenge to really understand people’s emotions

    • Recognize the acronym that the War College created to describe what would happen after the Cold War. 
    • VUCA = volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous
    • Irvine says that we have to garnish as much information as possible from the people in front of us as leaders. 

Is it easier in a virtual environment? 

    • Zoom is great because you can see the other person, and it’s not like being on the phone where you can’t. 
    • Understanding some of the backgrounds of the other person also helps. 

Where should someone who is self-aware begin if they want to elevate? 

    • Irvine says that he would say mindset. 
    • If you want to grow your EQ, there are two elements of the mindset that are required. 
    • Always be curious about what’s happening within us. 

What led Irvine to write his book?

    • He was going to write another book, but his heart wasn’t in it. 
    • He went to visit Ireland. 
    • As they were landing, he said that he got the inspiration to visit his childhood places.

The one thing Irvine wants to be remembered by

    • His smile.
    • And that he was someone who always tried to build a bridge and not a wall.

3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

The Shift 

15:16 – “Yeah, so the way I like to explain it is, you know, the church didn’t change I did. And I just think at that stage, and there were different priorities in my life in different ways. And for me, that required transitioning out, I thought, I kind of wanted to be married, etc., and just that that wasn’t compatible with that role. I had a great ten years, and I loved the work that I did. And then, as I transitioned out, I took over a CEO of several large social service agencies. And then that got me into the role that I’m presently in working with executive leaders.

Defining emotional intelligence 
6:25 – “So I think a great way to understand emotional intelligence is by actually what most intelligent people can do. And I would say there are four things. One is they are self-aware. They understand what emotions are having at the moment, what triggers them. Secondly, knowing that they have tools to manage their emotions to use that emotion at the moment to the best outcome. The third thing is that they can read other people’s emotions and show empathy to build connections. And then the fourth thing is they use all of that to build solid relationships and also have relationships which have a positive outcome.”

Where the problem lies initially  

8:49  “I think the problem lies in times we have different values. So I think it’s, of course, first of all, we grew up at different times. And then the age that we grew up, we were marked by different events. And those events place in us I feel different values and what is important. I think we forget the fact what I always say to leaders is to be curious, ask questions, you know, and so often, we settled down into you’re not doing this, or you’re not doing that, and instead of it is, you know, talk to me a little bit about what’s important for you. Why is it important? You know, the why question the deeper. And I think what normally happens is, when you bring down and have some open conversations from some of these different generational groups, it’s amazing then, as they hear the stories, that they begin to appreciate each other. And then I think that better positions us for what we’re asking, why we’re asking, and it really helps in the relationship.”


About Irvine Nugent 

Irvine Nugent has seen firsthand how any new business skill won’t be effective unless paired with true Emotional Intelligence. He’s spent the majority of his career helping leaders and organizations harness the power of their leadership through emotional intelligence to create deeper connections, make more informed and level-headed decisions, and increase their influence throughout their careers and life.

Irvine was born in Northern Ireland, and his richly varied background brings a truly unique perspective to every keynote. Having grown up in a society torn apart by a dramatic period of violence and division, he’s seen the worst of what can happen when communication breaks down, and people fail to listen and understand each other nor manage conflict. This formed the foundation of his desire to help people communicate and listen better throughout the world.

Since then, Irvine has served in senior leadership roles for various organizations and become an internationally recognized trainer and top-rated keynote speaker. He’s also one of the world’s only globally certified FACS coders, earned his Ph.D. from Capella University focusing on leadership during crisis, and graduated from Georgetown University’s executive coaching program. He’s also the author of Leadership Lessons from the Pub, a book on what the Irish pub can teach leaders about Emotional Intelligence.

Connect with Irvine 






YouTube Channel


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Darrell Evans

Darrell Evans is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and Co-founder/CEO of Yokel Local Digital Marketing Agency. He and his teams have helped businesses generate over $300M+ in revenue online. Every month, he leads virtual workshops teaching actionable strategies and tips from his experience helping companies market, grow, and scale.