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Generosity Pays: Why Balancing Kindness And Credibility Builds Great Businesses

By Jacqueline Frost with Tamara Box

In the latest episode of Finding Your EPIC, host Jacqueline Frost sits down with Tamara Box, Former Managing Partner of Reed Smith. They discuss the world as a karmic place, why we should focus on a long-term perspective over short-term gains, and the balance between generosity and self-promotion. 

For the full conversation, Finding Your EPIC  is available here

The perks of being generous 

In 2011, I was fortunate enough to meet Tamara Box at a panel discussion. Her passion for supporting women made me an instant fan, but what really struck a chord with me was a mere two words that she shared:

Generosity pays.

When I first heard Tamara say this, I was immediately curious. How and when did she realise how important this principle was? And how has generosity shaped her incredibly successful career in finance?

A karmic world

Tamara: “I’ve long thought, from very early days in my career, that the world is a very karmic place. What you put out, you often get back. But it’s not transactional.”

Great leadership isn’t about having a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” approach.  It’s not about being in competition with others. It’s not about doing good deeds just to be rewarded. 

Tamara’s approach to generosity reminds us of this. The more generous we are with our time, our expertise, and our knowledge, the more likely people are to be generous back. It may be as simple as passing on a positive remark about us to someone in their network but, especially when we surround ourselves with like-minded people, generosity reaps generosity.

Building generous teams

Tamara’s “generosity pays” mindset is a fantastic tool that can be leveraged to build great teams.

Tamara: “It’s worked for me because people want to work with me, we in turn work with people more who are like that and then we together build more people who are like that. Over time you end up with great teams, and ultimately, that’s what great client service is made of – and it’s also great fun.” 

This attitude to business – one based on generosity, kindness, and fun – ultimately reminds us that the workplace should be enjoyable. It’s a nice reminder that, in our determined ascension up the career wall, it’s all too easy to forget.

The tightrope we walk

Tamara’s philosophy, however, comes with a warning, especially for women in the workplace.

Tamara: “It can be a very slippery slope. I’ve watched women go down that road of self-depreciation to the point of doing them out of a job or promotion or any credit at all. I try really hard to take the view that I can be generous, but not to the point of zero.” 

This idea is something we discuss frequently in the virtual sessions we run at Elevate Talent, which are designed to help corporate businesses leverage the leadership potential in their female pipeline. 

Many people struggle to take credit and stand up for themselves, perhaps in an attempt to be generous with their compassion and understanding. They don’t want to be seen as self-promoting or arrogant, they want to avoid rocking the boat. 

This is a tightrope that many people all over the world walk as they navigate their careers. Tamara Box, however, is an example of how to get it right. 

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Listen to the full discussion with Tamara here. For more on Tamara, visit her on LinkedIn.

Finding Your EPIC releases new episodes weekly here. More on Elevate Talent and Jacqueline Frost can be found here.