It’s hard to work with difficult people.
The people you work with make the difference between a fantastic working environment and a stressful one.
But there’s no required management course called “Nice People 101.” Well, not yet…
Global leadership and inclusion consultant Tressa Yonekawa Bundren is in the business of helping leaders create amazing working environments.
She calls it the “art of exquisite leadership.” In simple terms, it’s about being good humans.
“Really, the tenets of great leadership are the tenets of great humanity,” she says.
In this week’s YBTV interview, you’ll discover the ingredients of a great workplace, why bad managers can make life so difficult, the gap where mindfulness left off, and the urgency of being powerful women.
What You’ll Learn
When Tressa Yonekawa Bundren was 15 years old, she worked for a hospital with a big, beautiful mission statement on the wall.
But those words didn’t describe the way the hospital worked behind the scenes.
“It was so confusing to me. How could this organization that does so much good in the world, front this thing in beautiful calligraphy on a giant wall in the hallway and be so not living it?” she says.
“It’s been my quest, then, to see how we can change that and make it better.”
Today, Tressa is a global leadership and inclusion consultant who teaches the art of exquisite leadership.
We work with leadership from this place of, ‘Let’s be whole. Let’s understand that we’re human. We all have to be vulnerable to be human.'”
By leadership, she doesn’t just mean the people at the top.
“No matter where you are in a company, you’re a leader in that position. You can be a role model leader for everybody around you, including your management,” she says.
She describes her work as heart-based and human-centric. It’s not about fighting your way to the top. It’s about being a good human.
“I’m not going to say that you have to be a great manager to have success,” she says. “But I am going to say that in order to live your best life, work, and love, it pays to be a really good human. And typically, if we’re in the practice of being a really good human, we’re going to be a better manager and leader.”
Good v Bad Management
Management is a skill, and not everyone has it.
Some leaders have come up in a system where they learned that ego wins and competition is there to be crushed. They’ve learned that vulnerability is a weakness. That they can’t get ahead unless they have all the answers. That the winner is the one who’s “tougher, stronger, faster, better, more.”
That model doesn’t make for a great working environment.
“The truth is now, today, in our global community, in our global economy, we suffer and we make everybody around us suffer when we have that mentality that we know everything and everybody else needs to just listen,” she says.
We’ve all been in workplaces like that. Yet it’s hard for some companies to see what is happening.
“Typically, the pattern is that really good people leave under bad management,” Tressa says. “We don’t really leave jobs; we leave managers.”
That’s why she asks companies to look at themselves from a human-centered perspective. What are people saying about the company on social media? What is their experience from the moment they leave their home and walk through that door?
“Are we living our mission,” she asks, “or is the mission just something that’s on the wall?”
A Great Working Environment
A great workplace fulfills basic human needs like inclusion and belonging.
It’s a place where employees feel like “this is a form of family, a form of community, where we want to contribute and where we want to be responsible and we know that other people are doing the same thing.”
Great workplaces value integrity, while at the same time recognizing that truth is subjective. “What I believe is completely true, the next 10 people down the road may not,” Tressa says. “Where can we find our common yes, so that we can work together, create together, be on each other’s team, have each other’s backs?”
But what if you’re in a workplace or under a manager that has no interest in finding a common yes?
“Sometimes, our managers don’t have the self-awareness,” Tressa says. “They’re very self-protective.”
Where there’s competition, there’s fear and insecurity. “None of us came through this far to be in the workplace without any self-worth issues,” Tressa says.
“I would say that after working with thousands of people for the last 30 years,” she adds, “I haven’t met one person who doesn’t have some sort of self-worth wound. When we’re not addressing those, when we’re not in a personal practice of being better humans for ourselves, we can’t be better humans with each other.”
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
The Place Where Mindfulness Left Off
“For about the last 15 years, there’s been a huge influx of of mindfulness programs and consulting,” Tressa says. “Mindfulness taught us to be here to breathe, to slow down.”
But that isn’t all there is. There’s another level.
“The place where mindfulness left off is this gap where connection happens,” Tressa says. Her work poses the question:
How do we masterfully be in connection with others from a place of mindfulness?”
Or, in simpler terms, “How do we just take a breath before we lose our minds? And from there, can we speak literally through our hearts?”
You could call it emotional intelligence, or you could call it ancient technology.
“It’s thousands of years old, really,” Tressa explains. “What we’re bringing in and putting these labels on is simply you showing up and being present, human to human.”
The Urgency of Being Powerful Women
Tressa not only teaches the art of exquisite leadership. She also teaches the art of feminine power.
“I get to travel all over the world and teach women about the urgency of being powerful women,” Tressa says.
The title of one of her programs is The Modern Tantrica. It’s about the classical Tantric principle of interweaving.
“As we understand that we are all connected, we have immense power,” she says. “The feminine dynamic of power is … not just intuition and caring for people. It is this inner resource realm of this everything—I will call it everything and nothing. It’s beyond even what we have words for.”
She teaches women to step into that power and own it.
To get connected and find out more about Tressa’s programs, connect with her on Instagram.
Jump to Topics of Interest
2:04 Why people aren’t always nice at work
3:56 Exquisite leadership at every level
6:08 Really good people leave under bad management
8:25 Where mindfulness left off
11:15 Showing up and being present, human to human
13:25 Tressa’s vision of an inclusive workplace where we all can belong
14:45 Living your mission statement
17:30 The urgency of being powerful women
Tressa Yonekawa Bundren
Tressa Yonekawa Bundren is a global leadership and inclusion consultant, former neurocognitive speech pathologist, wife, and mom of three daughters. Connect on LinkedIn.