Learn More About Stew Friedman
In an era that glorifies the executive superhuman, the tireless entrepreneur, and the workaholic lifestyle, many people opt out of a successful corporate career for fear of losing sight of the important things in life. Stew Friedman, founding director of The Wharton School’s Leadership Program and its Work/Life Integration Project and host of Wharton’s “Work and Life” podcast, says this distinction between devotion to work and enjoyment of life is both false and damaging to individuals and companies. More than thirty years of his research, consulting, and leadership at top organizations reveals the keys to leading a life that breeds fulfillment in all four domains of life: at work, at home, in the community, and within oneself. But to achieve this – to extract the best performance out of employees – companies must recognize that by supporting employee focus on non-work domains, they are actually improving their organization’s bottom line.
Recognized by many as the world’s foremost authority on leadership from the point of view of the whole person, Friedman created the Total Leadership program while serving as the senior executive for leadership development at Ford Motor Company with the purpose of improving work performance and employee satisfaction. He taught leaders at all levels how to find mutual value among the domains most important to the individual, and his frameworks are proving to be beacons of hope for those seeking harmony between all the domains.
Praised by such leading lights as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Total Leadership is revolutionizing companies’ approaches to human resource management. Since his days at Ford, Friedman has presented to and consulted major corporations seeking to replicate the strategy that transformed the American automaker and catapulted Friedman into the position of top expert on creating and maintaining a psychologically healthy corporate culture. In his new book co-authored with Alyssa Westring, “Parents Who Lead: The Leadership Approach You Need to Parent with Purpose, Fuel Your Career, and Create a Richer Life” (Harvard Business Review Press, March 2020), Friedman lends his methods to show working parents how to lead more purposeful lives, characterized by harmony, connection, and impact.
An inspiring and provocative speaker, Friedman delivers engaging keynote addresses and conducts immersive workshops globally on leadership, building trust, creating sustainable change, and strategic human resources issues. Telling riveting stories and drawing on hard facts, he breaks through the either/or thinking that has dominated the discussion about work and life. He says “Work/life balance is the wrong metaphor,” and shows audiences how they can pursue what he calls “four-way wins” by being real (acting with authenticity), being whole (acting with integrity), and being innovative (acting with creativity). Total Leadership has demonstrated it can improve employee well-being and performance by finding harmony among the various dimensions of life.
Friedman has been on faculty at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania since 1984. His courses – routinely oversubscribed in both Wharton’s full-time MBA program and its Executive MBA program – produce the next wave of innovative thinkers who then implement the Total Leadership framework in their lives and across their organizations, enabling them to mindfully address and remedy issues such as performance management, employee engagement, resilience, well-being, diversity, and inclusivity. According to The New York Times, students speak of him “with a mixture of earnest admiration, gratitude, and rock star adoration.” He has been recognized twice as one of HR’s Most Influential International Thinkers and three times as one of “the world’s top 50 business thinkers” by Thinkers50. In 2015, he won Thinkers50’s Distinguished Achievement Award in the talent management field and was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2023.
The author of more than 50 articles for HBR.org, including one listed first among Harvard Business Review’s Ideas that Shaped Management in 2013, Friedman’s most recent best-selling book, “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014), builds on another best-seller, “Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2008), which has been translated into seven languages. Listeners from around the U.S. and Canada tune in weekly to his “Work and Life” radio show on SiriusXM.
Friedman worked for five years in the mental health field before earning his doctorate in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. He currently serves on a number of boards and has advised a wide range of companies and public-sector organizations, including the U.S. Departments of Labor and State, the United Nations, and two White House administrations.
By actively demonstrating the innovative tools he’s developed and freely shared, Friedman energizes audiences at all career and organizational levels. They leave his sessions, courses, and radio shows charged up to pursue realistic action plans for producing positive change.
Stew Friedman is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.