Business Series Podcast Ep.5 – The Importance of EQ with Gilly Chater

The Importance of EQ

In this episode, Ankush speaks with Gilly Chater about EQ and the importance of “emotional intelligence” in the workplace. Some of what they discuss include:

– What is EQ and why it is more important to understand as a leader?

– The distinction between our “Intuition” vs our “Intellect”

– The connection between EQ, intuition and presence.

– A story of a life-changing moment that a leader had when he listened to his daughter.

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To contact Gilly Chater and find out more about her work, visit

Full Transcript

[00:00:00.00] Ankush: Welcome to another episode of this podcast, today I’m going to be talking to Gilly Chater about the importance of EQ in business. Gilly is a member and former president of the professional speakers association New Zealand and she’s a global leadership coach. Welcome, Gilly.


[00:00:24.18] Gilly: Hello, and it’s great to be here Ankush, across the other side of the world.


[00:00:29.13] Ankush: I’m really excited to be talking about EQ, I know it’s something that probably many of us have heard about, and I guess a really good starting point, before we go into the importance of what EQ is in business, is: what is EQ?


[00:00:47.14] Gilly: That’s a good question, because when people say EQ, what we’re talking about is Emotional Intelligence. But the “Q” stands for quotient, it’s like, they do a lot of… you’ve probably heard of IQ, and the Intelligence Quotient, or the intellect, the tests that people are often given when they’re being hired, and in fact that’s one of the things that is a big concern for business today, because the emotional intelligence is, I would say, is not just as important, it’s even more important when people get to a leadership position. Whether they’re a team leader or they’re a middle manager or a chief executive, wherever it is, this EQ has been, I would call it, neglected over the last several years.

So IQ if you think about it, the way the school systems are run, in the western world, should I say first, certainly here in New Zealand and in the UK, and other parts of the States, we have a huge emphasis on IQ, how clever are we, how clever are we to get the exam results we do? The test has got to be really high, and we are measured on our intelligence, our intellect, and, what happens is that people are well equipped and they get to tertiaries, occasion or whatever they’re going to do, but then, when they’re suddenly in a leadership role, they’re out of balance, so, it’s not that we weren’t born with some emotional intelligence, but it’s almost been knocked out of us, and so really, that’s why we have to look today is: how do we help people we build the emotional intelligence, so natural emotional intelligence and develop that so that they become very good leaders of people rather than managers. And the distinction I make is that the managing side of a job is all about the tasks and the details and the number crunching and all the how-tos and processes. Whereas EQ is all about having the vision, the big picture, the ability to communicate, get people on board to inspire, but also to feel inspired yourself, because if we’re not motivated and inspired ourselves, how can we do that for others? So, what I call the leading side of our role in life is all about the EQ, and, they’re just as important, I call it like a leadership umbrella of self-leadership. So whether you actually have people reporting to you or not in a role in business, we need both, and we need both in our personal lives too.


[00:03:34.22] Ankush: I remember reading many many years ago, there’s a book that I’m sure some other people have heard of and probably many have read, was the first, I guess, personal development book that I ever read, which was called “How to win friends and influence people.” And it’s a book, I think was written in the 1920’s, so, nearly 100 years old now. But, in that book, I believe there was a section which talked about this very thing, although it wasn’t called the emotional quotient, but I think it was the example that, even in those days, even 100 years ago, that Dale Carnegie was talking about, engineers, and he gave the example of engineers. The ones that really got promoted and did well, weren’t necessarily the ones that were the most intelligent or the best engineers, but they were the ones that had the ability to communicate, influence, motivate others, and maybe explain the engineering speak, if you like, to other parts of the organization. And so this probably isn’t a new concept, but, like you say, it might be ignored, and I think the thing for me, certainly when I was going through my early career that I didn’t really understand, was, what can I do about it? I mean in theory it sounds great, and we might call these “softer skills,” you know, to have them, and I’m sure everyone has had experiences where they’ve worked for leaders, who are very inspirational and have great people skills, and we’ve probably all worked for leaders that are at the other end of the spectrum, but how does one develop these skills?


[00:05:22.10] Gilly: Well I would say that develop I think to evolve because I feel that if you look at young little children, they actually have a natural emotional intelligence, and it gets knocked out of them at school because they’re channelled in certain directions. But we’ve had this huge emphasis on, and if I think of business particularly, they want an explanation, they want data, they want proof that somebody comes up with a great new idea that it’s going to work. So I’d like to talk a little bit about, intuition versus intellect. Because that’s what we’re talking about here. So we were all born with an innate ability to be intuitive, and we talk about trusting our gut feel. And of course you just talked about Dale Carnegie, and my favorite is “aspire to be” from Albert Einstein, which again was several years ago. Now, he talked about the intuitive mind is a sacred gift. It’s a gift that we have as a human race. The rational mind, the analytical mind is a faithful servant. But what we’ve done is, we’ve created a society that honors the analytical mind, the servant, and has forgotten the gift of intuition, and intuition is a very important component of EQ.

I actually use sometimes, a client would like to use some sort of measuring system, I don’t need it to work with my clients, but they want a measuring system, and I happen to use a really good one, I’ve used for years called the SA Systems EQ Assessment, so it’s not a test, it’s just an assessment, and I’ve actually had people, clients who’ve brought me to use it on their whole sales teams, because it helps them to see, because it’s very much a people-relationship job, and what comes out is, quite often is, that some of the cleverest people are very low when they score themselves on creativity, and intuition, and we all know. In fact, I read an article just last night about, today, the most important part of “business” is creativity. Creativity and innovation. We’ve got to keep going, but if this style went by having to analyse everything and overthink everything, and then, perhaps not come up with the best outcome, we’re not relying on that wonderful thing I call innate wisdom. The intuitive side of us, that sort of knows without knowing, and trusting that gut feeling. And what has happened is, I’m coaching a 14-year-old at the moment, unusual for me, but she’s got a brilliant mind, wants to go to Oxford in England, could do easily, but she jumps into the intellect all the time, was all over the place and the reason I’m coaching her is that she’s not grounded, and so, we had that in the same with business, we had people who were so busy trying to prove something that prevents them from new original thought, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

We get that, from having insights. Those “aha!” incredible realization moments, “oh my goodness, how come we didn’t think about this before?” And we didn’t think about this before, so we caught up with our analytical thinking. So it’s not that some people can be creative, because I’ve often heard people say, “well, I’m not a creative person.” And by the time they’d been through the coaching, they said, “I didn’t realise…” So they felt that that’s not where they fitted into the scheme of things. But you look at little boys and little girls when they’re very small. They’re incredibly creative, and they, someone says, “oh no, you can’t draw it like that, you’ve got to draw something else.” So what I’m coming back to is, is that business, even more, important today, is that we have that trust in our intuitive side, and we’re willing to go to that place. I’m a great reader of people who I think challenge our thinking, there’s a man called Peter Seney

[00:09:40.11], and he wrote about discipline, he’s a well-known leadership guru. He also has written a book called “Presence” with some other authors, and if you really want to explore something interesting, and it totally relates to what you’re talking about here, when organizations are wanting to go through change, and Seney talks about the U-bend, we go right down the bottom and up the other side, but what happens is, organizations get too frightened to go into that space of “I don’t know what the answer is.” Because we’re paid to have the answers, so we’re afraid to be in that space of “actually I don’t know what the answer is right now, but I know we have the capacity if we don’t overthink things, to come up with something, new original thoughts.” And he calls that “presence,” and hence the book is called “Presence.” It’s about being in that state of presence, of totally being in the moment and not worrying about what we already know.


[00:10:35.25] Ankush: Yeah I’ve not heard anyone speak previously about, and I’m not an expert on EQ by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve never heard someone talk about EQ being the same as presence, and the same as intuition and about creativity. My assumption was EQ was more to do with motivation and influencing, could you talk about the link there?


[00:11:04.01] Gilly: Yes. Well, it is about, of course, it is, and it’s about listening, it’s about all those things, and as I said, I used the SA systems system, sometimes, I don’t need it, but they have 20 components. Now I don’t need to tell all of them to you, and of course, it is about influence and personal power. But it’s emotional self-awareness and emotional self-awareness of others. But these other ones, about compassion, about intuition, about creativity, they’re about relationships, all those things are 20, and anybody can go online by the way and have a look at SA Systems, I happen to use this one, I got to, I’ve never met her, but the founder who died last year, Esther O’Reilly, she’s been around, and her team are still there, they’re a very personal organization, anybody can go online and do the EQ assessment, remember it’s an assessment, it’s not a test, because we kind of re-develop ourselves, and reconnect with who we really are in that. So it’s a great grounding tool for people and it has 4 quadrants, and obviously we want to be on the higher level rather than the lower level, and we can go up and down in life as well, that’s the point, because, how do we handle ourselves when we go down in those dips because something happens, and we’re not handling life very well, whether it be our health or had to lose a job or whatever it is, but those… It’s a much bigger thing than I think people understand the emotional intelligence. And if you think about school systems today, they don’t, social and emotional intelligence, there isn’t enough balance.

I had a client, couple of years ago and he, of course, understood all this for himself, and he had a very bright son, and this guy is a finance and IT, sorry he’s an IT guy, so very much in that intellectual space, but he realised through his own coaching, that his son, who’s a bright boy, who’s going to school, wanting to put up two classes of maths, hadn’t developed socially, and he didn’t want him to be with, when he was only 8 with 10-year-olds, it’s a big gap between an 8-year-old boy and a 10-year-old boy. And he didn’t want him put into those classes, and he had this, his own insight, his own realization, that he’s got plenty of time to do the maths, if he’s that clever anyway, I need to grow him as a balanced young boy, and that was really interesting because he was the sort of person that would never have even thought about it, until he had an understanding of the importance of EQ. Not just for himself as a leader of the IT team, but also for his own kids, so, it is holistic, it’s a much more holistic thing than a  narrow channel.


[00:14:01.11] Ankush: Do you have an example of a leader that you’ve worked with, where you’ve helped them to develop their EQ, and could you tell us a little bit about the work that you did and the outcomes of that work, so that we might take something away from that for ourselves today?


[00:14:19.24] Gilly: Right, well. I probably don’t work the same as a lot of what I call, “leadership coaches,” around the world, because I have a particular way of talking with people and perhaps that I’ve done it for over 25 years, and I’ve experienced a lot of things, but I think the whole thing, if somebody wants to change, let’s talk about change right now. If things are not working quite well for a particular leader in business and they want to change, it’s very difficult. We tend to put it in sort of processes, and action steps, to help them change whatever behaviours they have in certain situations, and of course about emotional intelligence is about being far more self-aware of when those challenges come up and how they handle themselves, and most people are in that automatic, we are all in that automatic reactive mode. So I help them to see that, but what actually creates a change for them? And I’m coming back to what I talked about a little bit earlier, it’s about the power of insight.

Insight is absolutely the catalyst for change, so having insight. It’s the ability to create. It’s the source of lasting change. When somebody, you know sometimes you meet people and they say, “Oh I smoked for years and I could never give up, went through all these programs and I did this and then that…” And then suddenly I’ve had an insight and something changed for me, and I never ever touched another cigarette. And sometimes we don’t attribute what happened because we don’t realise what’s going on, so again, it’s about self-awareness in that moment. We talk about having those, I call it those, “out of the blue” revelations in life. And they might seem very small at the time, but as a result, things dramatically can change. So, if somebody has, and what prevents us from having insights, is our analytical thinking. Our analytical thinking. We’re always thinking about, always trying to analyse our way through to get a result. If we do this, well we can do that. If I see that I don’t do that.

So, if somebody wants to have an overall higher way of being, of emotional intelligence, just the change is going to be through an insight moment. And, so I’ll give you an example, and actually it’s quite a personal thing, this person was the head of finance and IT in a fairly reasonable sized, multinational in New Zealand, and I got a call from his MD one day saying, “look, Jack is on stress leave again, and I really know that you can help him, Gilly. Would you do some coaching with him? He was on stress leave when he comes back, would you do some coaching?” So, I said, “yes, but no. No, I won’t wait till he comes back, I’d like to meet with him now.” And so he said, “Okay, that’s fine.” So he came to my house actually because he was on stress leave, and we had 1 session, and I had him with me for a couple of hours and then the next time we came back, and in that second session he was very excited, because the advantage of being on stress leave, he could spend more time with his little 5-year-old daughter. And so, he said, “every day I’m struggling, trying to come up with things, what can I do with her after school when I pick her up every day? What can I do?” And then suddenly in a flash, it occurred to him: I could ask her! And so he did, he asked her. And you think, well that’s normal, why wouldn’t he do that. But it’s what she said that was his lightbulb moment, that absolute moment of insight, and she said to him: “can we just go to the beach and be together today daddy?” So it wasn’t about they had to do anything, they’re just being together. And he felt his whole life was he had to do something, he forgot that before you do, you need to be in a certain place, and he went down and had that walk along the beach. And it just, was in that moment, it was so life-changing for him because he’d always been out in the future worrying about this, and always being out and in the past, and “did we do this and did we do that?” And of course as a finance person, as you said, like engineers; highly analytical, but the thing about that is, this is several years ago now, and he and I still talk, and he’s in another role somewhere else, he actually said to me, because I wrote an article about it, in my newsletter, and you know what he said? “I have shown that letter, that article to my daughter now she’s older, it was such a life-changing moment.” He had an insight, and that is absolutely core to change.


[00:19:21.03] Ankush: Thanks Gilly, that was a really great story and I know we’ve got limited time today, so we’ve kind of just got the highlights, but what’s the one takeaway you would like listeners to take from this conversation today?


[00:19:37.15] Gilly: I think really being open and value exploring emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter how clever you are. You need that, particularly if you want to be a leader in life. And I just encourage people to pick up a book, read about it, go on Google, just go and see what’s around and just see what resources there are, to see that it really is important, and their life will be far more in balance. All of our lives are far more in balance when we have much better self-awareness.


[00:20:13.06] Ankush: Fantastic, well thank you so much for your time today. If someone’s interested to speak with you further or get in contact with you, how might they do that?


[00:20:23.27] Gilly: Well very easily, my name is Gilly Chater and my email address is:, and if you Google me, I usually come up No. 1, because there is no other Gilly Chater in the world – yet – that has a website called: and you can just go on my contact page and contact me, and of course I talk to people who are anywhere in the world on Zoom or Skype, so that’s probably the best way.


[00:20:55.14] Ankush: Well, thanks again so much for talking to us about EQ and I certainly learned a lot from that today and I will be back next time with another guest and we’ll be talking about another subject that is relevant to business. Until then.



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