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Stewart  Friedman

Stewart Friedman

Professor at Wharton School of Business & Best-Selling Author of Total Leadership


Since 1984 Stew Friedman has been on faculty at Wharton, where he became the Management Department’s first Practice Professor for his work on applying theory and research to the real challenges facing organizations. As founding director of The Wharton Leadership Program, in 1991 he initiated the required MBA and Undergraduate leadership courses. He is also founding director of Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project. Read More >

An award-winning teacher, he appears regularly in business media – The New York Times cited the “rock star adoration” he inspires in his students. He has been recognized twice as one of HR's Most Influential International Thinkers and as one of the "world's top 50 business thinkers" thrice by Thinkers50. In 2015 he won Thinkers50's Distinguished Achievement Award in the talent management field. He's published 50+ articles for HBR.org, including one listed first among Harvard Business Review's Ideas that Shaped Management in 2013. He was chosen by Working Mother as one of America’s 25 most influential men to have made things better for working parents, and was recently honored by the Families and Work Institute with the Work Life Legacy Award.

Stew’s most recent book is Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life (Harvard Business, 2014), a Wall Street Journal best-seller. It builds on his award-winning best-seller, Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (Harvard Business, 2008), which has been translated into seven languages. The program it describes is his challenging Wharton course, in which participants complete an intensive series of real-world exercises designed to increase their leadership capacity and performance in all parts of their lives by better integrating them, while working in high-involvement peer-to-peer coaching relationships and completing much of the activity online in a cutting-edge social learning environment. Total Leadership is used by individuals and companies worldwide, including as a primary intervention in a multi-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health on improving the careers and lives of women in medicine and by 135,000+ students enrolled in Stew’s highly-rated Coursera MOOC. 

In 2001 Stew concluded a two-year assignment as a senior executive at Ford Motor Company, where he was director of the Leadership Development Center (LDC), running a 50-person, $25 MM operation. In partnership with the CEO, he launched a corporate-wide portfolio of initiatives designed to transform Ford's culture; 2500+ managers per year participated. Near the end of his tenure at Ford, an independent research group (ICEDR) said the LDC was a "global benchmark" for leadership development programs.

Stew worked for five years in the mental health field before earning his PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. He has published on work/life, leadership, and the dynamics of change, including the widely-cited Harvard Business Review articles, “Work and life: the end of the zero-sum game” (1998); “Be a better leader, have a richer life” (2008); and "Work+Home+Community+Self (2014); and “The Happy Workaholic: a role model for employees” (in Academy of Management Executive, 2003). In 2013 Wharton Digital Press published his landmark study of two generations of Wharton students, Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and FamilyWork and Family – Allies or Enemies? (Oxford, 2000) was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the field's best books. In Integrating Work and Life: The Wharton Resource Guide (Jossey-Bass, 1998) Stew edited the first collection of learning tools for building leadership skills for integrating work and life. 

Stew serves on a number of boards and has advised a wide range of companies and public sector organizations, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the United Nations, and two White House administrations. He gives keynote addresses and conducts workshops globally on leadership and the whole person, creating change, and strategic human resources issues. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

Total Leadership:

Life is a zero-sum game, right? The more we strive to win in one dimension (such as our work), the more we have to sacrifice performance and satisfaction in the other three dimensions (family, community, and private self). Wrong! The bestselling Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (available in many languages) is a culmination of decades of research and practice. In this session, Stew Friedman persuasively shows how we don’t have to make trade-offs between life’s most important domains, and certainly not as often as we think. Nor should we. 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 blueprint for how to become a more successful leader in all domains of life: work, home, community, and self (mind, body, and spirit). Read More >

Friedman has brought this proven model to organizations around the world in keynotes and workshops (at Ford Motor, Google, Goldman Sachs, Target, UnitedHealth Group, the U.S. State Department, and hundreds more) as well as online in a MOOC with 135K+ enrolled students. Each participant leaves his interactive sessions charged up with working knowledge of how to use the Total Leadership method and a customized action plan designed to produce a four-way win – positive impact that’s sustainable because it improves performance in all domains of life. Read Less ^

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

Building on his national bestseller Total Leadership, decades of research and teaching on the faculty at Wharton, and practice as both consultant and senior executive, Friedman identifies the skills for creating harmony between work and the rest of life. He illustrates them with riveting original stories of sterling exemplars of great achievement and significant impact.

Each of these admirable (though surely imperfect) people exemplifies a specific set of skills that reduce conflict and produce a sense of purpose, coherence, and optimism.  Friedman’s stories paint vivid pictures of the ways these very different leaders act with authenticity, integrity, and creativity – and they show 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 parts.  Friedman describes the engaging exercises he curated from research in organizational psychology and related fields that anyone can use for practicing these skills.  His interactive talk is filled with 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 such organizations as Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Warby Parker, and others.

New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family

Millennials see the world very differently from those who’ve preceded them, and if you’re wondering why and what this shift means for our society, our organizations, and our families, then you’ll want to hear the good news and the bad from global thought leader Stew Friedman.  Since founding the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project in 1991, his 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.  Friedman’s 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. Read More >

Drawing on this historic research, Friedman’s thought-provoking talk addresses: Read Less ^

  • How views about work and family have changed in the past 20 years
  • 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

Enhancing Your Reputation by Building Social Capital

Everyone needs the support of other people in order to succeed – at work, at home, and in the community.  So how do you cultivate your reputation as someone who others should want to help and thereby benefit from the abundance of resources that you can only acquire through others who are willing to help you? 

In this high-energy session, Stew Friedman teaches the basics of social capital (understanding the practical meaning of “six degrees of separation,” the universality of the reciprocity principle, and more) and then leads an interactive exercise in which all attendees ask for help and give it to others.  Not only does everyone gain real, practical assistance on a project that matters to them, attendees learn how to cultivate their networks by finding out what others need and providing it in a low-cost way that works for all parties. 

Employees at all levels in organizations as diverse as KPMG, the OECD (in Paris), and Ford Motor have enjoyed the experience of actively learning how to design and enact a strategy for building lifelong support by enhancing their reputations as people worthy of others’ trust.