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  • Stew Friedman: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
    Stew Friedman: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
  • Here’s How Leadership Skills Can Help You Parent Better
    Here’s How Leadership Skills Can Help You Parent Better
  • Stew Friedman On Why Parents Aren't Honest In The Workplace [FULL]
    Stew Friedman On Why Parents Aren't Honest In The Workplace [FULL]
  • Stew Friedman | Mobilizing People Toward Goals That Matter
    Stew Friedman | Mobilizing People Toward Goals That Matter
  • Wharton Professor Stew Friedman on the Real Lives of Leaders
    Wharton Professor Stew Friedman on the Real Lives of Leaders
  • Paternity time costing fathers in workplace
    Paternity time costing fathers in workplace
  • Integrating Work and Life
    Integrating Work and Life
  • New Work and Family Choices for Men and Women
    New Work and Family Choices for Men and Women
  • SAP and Wharton Business School: Mental Health in the Workplace
    SAP and Wharton Business School: Mental Health in the Workplace

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, 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®.

Stew Friedman was last modified: June 24th, 2024 by Meg Virag

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Parents Who Lead: The Leadership Approach You Need to Parent with Purpose, Fuel Your Career and Create a Richer Life

Working parents have their work cut out for them, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday demands and lose track of who you are and what really matters. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Stew Friedman. Building on decades of widely-renowned research and experience as a researcher, educator, consultant, and advocate, and also drawing from the principles of Total Leadership – his impactful, proven program taught in organizations worldwide – Friedman brings the science of leadership to the art of parenting, helping working mothers and fathers who are executives, managers, and front-line employees learn to thrive in all aspects of life. It can be done.

Everyone benefits from this interactive session: the business, employees, and their families. Based on his new book co-authored with Alyssa Westring, Parents Who Lead (March 2020), Friedman teaches his audiences to rethink assumptions about how to create harmony among work, family, and the rest of life. He provides practical and indispensable tools, as well as compelling examples from the lives of real working parents, to show you how to:

  • Design a future based on your core values
  • Engage with your children in fresh, meaningful ways
  • Cultivate a community of caregiving and support, in all parts of your life
  • Experiment to discover better ways to live and work

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

Life is a zero-sum game, right? The more we strive to win in one dimension (such as our work), the more we sacrifice performance and satisfaction in the other three: family, community, and private self. Not true, says Stew Friedman. Drawing on decades of research, teaching, and practice in many organizations around the world – detailed in his best-selling book “Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life” – Friedman persuasively shows us how we don’t have to make trade-offs between life’s most important domains, and certainly not as often as we think. A trade-off mindset makes people feel all manner of painful emotions; it hurts those we care about most, and it prevents us from leading and performing effectively in every part of life. Friedman provides a proven blueprint for becoming a more successful leader in all four domains of life: work, home, community and self (mind, body and spirit).

How to Build a Trustworthy Reputation

We all need the support of others to succeed in the different parts of our lives.  But few have mastered how to systematically build a reputation as a trustworthy individual whom others want to help. In this high-energy, interactive session, Stew Friedman teaches the fundamentals of social capital – understanding the dynamics of networks, realizing the power of the universal principle of reciprocity, asking for help without feeling guilty, and tapping into the vast wealth of resources available through your networks online and in person.  Employees at all levels in organizations as diverse as KPMG, the OECD (Paris), and Ford Motor Company have enjoyed the experience of actively learning how to design and enact a strategy for building lifelong support.  In business and in the rest of life, there’s a marketplace for trust.  Friedman shows you how to successfully navigate your key relationships – the people you know and those that those people know – with integrity so you can contribute your distinctive value in our hyper-connected world.

Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life

You might be skeptical, but you can create harmony between work and the rest of life, says Stew Friedman. Based on his best-selling “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life” and on decades of research, teaching and practice as both consultant and senior executive, Friedman describes the skills needed to do so, and illustrates them with riveting original stories of exemplars of great achievement and impact, including Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

Friedman’s stories paint vivid pictures of the ways these very different leaders act with authenticity, integrity, and creativity – and they prove that significant professional or public success is accomplished not at the expense of the rest of life, but as the result of meaningful attachments to all its disparate parts. The good news, says Friedman, is that anyone can practice and hone these skills. He provides evidence-based exercises for how cultivate them and offers practical insights that will inspire, inform, and instruct attendees on how to take realistic steps now toward leading the life you truly want, just as it has for employees at Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Warby Parker, Google and many other organizations.

New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family

Millennials see the world very differently from other generations. Stew Friedman shares why that is and what it means for our society, our organizations and our families. Since founding the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project in 1991, Friedman’s research, teaching, and advocacy for the evolution of social policy and business practices has influenced both the public sector (including projects with the White House and the U.S. Departments of Labor and State) and many private sector organizations. His ground-breaking research of two generations of Wharton students as they graduated – Gen Xers in 1992 and Millennials in 2012 – found that men and women are now more aligned in their attitudes about dual-career relationships. Drawing on this historic research, Friedman’s thought-provoking talk shows:

  • How views about work and family have changed in the past 20 years
  • Why men and women have different reasons for opting out of parenthood
  • How family has been redefined
  • Why we are all now part of a revolution in work and family
  • What choices we face in our social and educational policy
  • How organizations and individuals – especially men – can spur cultural change

“If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of work, family, and the rest of life, take back control with this insightful and compassionate book.”

Daniel H. Pink, Author, "When" and "Drive"

“Parents Who Lead is brilliantly done–a must-read guide that offers real solutions for working parents who strive to be values-driven leaders in today’s fast-paced world.”

Dave Lissy, Executive Chairman, Bright Horizons

“An inspiring guide for parents who want to succeed in their careers and make the world better for their children. It’s a crucial resource for organizations committed to attracting and retaining the best people who also happen to be parents.”

Anne Erni, Chief People Officer, Audible

“Parents Who Lead does not disappoint! Read this book, put it to practice, and see the results.”

Samuel Allen, Senior Vice President and COO of Marketing, Salesforce

“If struggling to meet work, family, and social demands means you feel too busy to read this book, then you really need to read it! It will help you unlock creative steps to live a more grounded, spacious, and fulfilling life.”

Grace Ho, Regional Lead, Women's Recruiting and Development (Asia), McKinsey & Company

“Friedman and Westring masterfully translate social science evidence into practical steps for building the leadership capacity to cultivate our relationships with our children and all those important to their development.”

Susan J. Lambert, President, Work and Family Researchers Network

“What a marvelous book! I wish I’d had it when I was a young parent, but it’s equally valuable at the empty-nesting stage. The application of the Total Leadership approach to parenting shows how we can grow and lead in every area of our lives.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America

“The skills that define great leaders at work are surprisingly relevant to becoming a great parent at home. This book won’t just help you identify those skills–it’s a step-by-step guide for putting them into practice.”

Adam Grant, New York Times Bestselling Author of "Originals" and "Give and Take"

“We often hear about work/life balance, but Stew Friedman takes it two steps further. He breaks life into four parts – work, home, community, and the private realm of mind, body and spirit – helping you lead a life that truly blends meaning and happiness.”

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

“Stew Friedman’s framework is the most comprehensive and meaningful distillation of how to lead yourself and others that I have encountered. I use the precepts of Total Leadership in my daily life, and I’m better off for it.”

Rich Smith, Finance Director, Amazon and Former U. S. Army infantry officer

“People told me how grateful they were for your message. One person said, ‘in my 20+ year corporate career, I’ve never had anyone tell me that I need to think about my life outside of work.’ I wish we could have had longer…but I think we gave the CCE Leadership Team an important gift that symbolized our commitment to them as people. The leadership vision exercise is making its way back and will be a topic of many leadership/staff meetings next week when people return to the office…Your work inspires.”

Stacey Valy Panayiotou, Coca Cola Enterprises

“Your dynamic and in-depth presentation greatly strengthened our message and helped to make our efforts a success. Your discussion of attaining real, sustainable change through the lens of leadership…resonated strongly.”

Sara Manzano-Diaz, Director of the Women’s Bureau of the US Department of Labor

“Employees and managers alike gained a new perspective. Managers indicated that your Total Leadership seminar was an eye-opening experience, helping them to realize the impact of support in life matters beyond work. It was evident that in order to be a progressive leader, managers need to continuously experiment with the way work is done and take individual actions.”

Collin Gardner, Merck Research Laboratories

“Destined to be a classic, this is a remarkable book. I have studied leadership and led organizations for over twenty years. No other book has reshaped my thinking about leadership development as much as Total Leadership.”

David Thomas, President, Morehouse College

“Terrific session with our leadership team! The buzz was palpable.”

Bill McNabb, CEO, Vanguard

“I personally found that the Total Leadership philosophy and process resonated strongly with me and I will continue to dig into the material to gain a better grounding. I firmly believe that if we can seed this thinking in our leadership development community and infiltrate Total Leadership into the company, we will have a sustainable source of competitive advantage. And I intend to advocate strongly for that!”

Sherri Bassner, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc

“In a world of work-life trade-offs, Stew Friedman offers what most think impossible: a field-tested program that gives you not only what you want in business, but also what you want in life. Brilliant!”

Tim Ferris, Author, "The 4-Hour Workweek"

“Stew Friedman brings a new definition of leadership to every sector, with ‘four-way wins’ that will inspire leaders at every level. A rare and moving guide for your journey to leadership.”

Frances Hesselbein, Former CEO, Girl Scouts of America