Leading the Life You Want


Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life,
Harvard Business Press.

You’re busy trying to lead a “full” life. But does it really feel full—or are you stretched too thin?  Stew Friedman, Wharton professor, adviser to leaders across the globe, is a passionate advocate of replacing the misguided metaphor of “work/life balance” with something more realistic, sustainable, and enriching. According to Friedman, the idea that “work” competes with “life” ignores the more nuanced reality of our humanity—the intersection and interaction of four central domains: work, home, community, and the private self. The goal is to integrate these areas harmoniously instead of thinking only in terms of trade-offs. It can be done.

Building on his national bestseller, Total Leadership, and on decades of research, teaching, 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 through the compelling stories of six remarkable people:

  • Tom Tierney: former CEO of Bain & Company and Bridgespan Group Co-founder
  • Sheryl Sandberg: businesswoman and author
  • Eric Greitens: nonprofit leader and US Navy SEAL
  • Michelle Obama: US First Lady
  • Julie Foudy: soccer champion-turned-broadcaster
  • Bruce Springsteen: renowned artist

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.  Their stories paint a vivid picture of the ways these very different leaders use specific skills to 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 parts.

With dozens of engaging exercises for practicing these skills, curated from research in organizational psychology and related fields, this book will inspire you, inform you, and instruct you on how to take realistic steps now toward leading the life you truly want.

More about the book

Baby Bust


Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family
Wharton Digital Press

Drawing on our study of two generations of Wharton college students as they graduated: Gen Xers in 1992 and Millennials in 2012, our cross-generational study produced a stark discovery – the rate of graduates who plan to have children has dropped by nearly half over the past 20 years. At the same time, we found that men and women are now more aligned in their attitudes about dual-career relationships, and they are opting out of parenthood in equal proportions. But their reasons for doing so are quite different. The book uses the unique research to explain why so many young people are not planning to become parents and reveals good news, that there is a greater freedom of choice now, and bad, that new constraints are limiting people’s options.

More about the book

Total Leadership

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
Harvard Business Press

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).   Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life, the culmination of decades of research and practice, details 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—including inauthentic, unfocused, rootless, resentful, and overwhelmed. It hurts those we care about most and it prevents us from leading and performing effectively in every part of life.

Total Leadership provides a blueprint for how to become a more successful and satisfied leader in all dimensions of life: work, home, community, and self (mind, body, and spirit). This proven, step-by-step “four-way wins” approach shows how to produce sustainable, meaningful change that benefits all life domains by:

  • Being real—acting with authenticity by clarifying what’s important.
  • Being whole—acting with integrity by respecting the whole person.
  • Being innovative—acting with creativity by experimenting with new solutions.

More about the book

Work And Family — Allies Or Enemies?

Work and Family — Allies or Enemies? What Happens When Business Professionals Confront Life Choices
Oxford University Press, 2000

The book was based on data collected in the 1990’s by the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project’s study of Wharton alumni and a parallel study at Drexel University by Jeff Greenhaus and Saroj Parasuraman.  It was written for a broad audience and was well-received in numerous journals. This readable research-based story about the lives and careers of over 800 business professionals found:

  • We can have (much of) it all, but it’s especially tough for working mothers.
  • Work and family can be allies.
  • Time is not the major problem.
  • Authority on the job is essential for work-family integration.
  • Women may be better adapted for the jobs of the future.
  • Kids are the unseen stakeholders at work.

The book describes what the literature and our data showed about the dilemmas of integrating work and personal life and addresses what employees, their organizations, families, and our society can do to develop creative means for handling these challenges.

More about the book

Integrating Work and Life: The Wharton Resource Guide

Integrating Work and life: The Wharton Resource Guide

Based on the first three roundtable conferences, Stew Friedman, Jessica DeGroot and Perry Christensen compiled and edited the first collection of teaching materials on integrating work and the rest of life, Integrating Work and Life: The Wharton Resource Guide. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

The book includes educational resources to:

  • Enhance workplace satisfaction
  • Improve productivity
  • Boost commitment
  • Aid recruitment efforts
  • Reduce absenteeism and turnover

It helps employees and employers learn to:

  • Clarify life priorities and examine choices
  • Communicate clear vision, goals, and performance expectations
  • Act in a way that is consistent with their values
  • Create trust, goodwill, and common ground

More about the book

Leadership Succession 

Leadership Succession

Leadership Succession
Transaction Publishers

Originally published in the 1908’s, this classic volume, reissued in 2011, focuses on the most critical strategic activity in any organization, namely, who gets chosen to sit in the top echelon of the pyramid. Friedman argues that it is the quality of corporate leadership that will determine corporate winners and losers in the global competitive game.

The stakes in leadership succession are high. The selection of key figures is the one human resource activity that no one belittles for being of secondary importance. Indeed, leadership succession is so important and central in many executive minds that it crowds out any other work. The succession process is often fraught with political intrigue, it lacks discipline, and excludes meaningful involvement of senior human resource executives.

The contributors to this imaginative volume reveal a succession planning process that is frequently sloppy, superficial, and regularly sabotaged by senior management when they give it short shrift in terms of quality time. In addition, senior management often overrides sound decisions when it comes to filling key positions. The result is a lack of integrity throughout the human resource systems that eventually leads to a collapse of belief in the system and its governance.

Noel M. Tichy, a leading figure in the studies of human resource management, has said, “Stewart Friedman is to be congratulated for a successful effort in providing a state of the art look at leadership succession. [He] provides us with an empirical database of what is happening in U.S. corporations, helpful prescriptions for future improvement of leadership succession, and a realistic assessment of the human resource executive challenges in this area.”

More about the book