The Book Corner - Review

Total Leadership by Stewart D. Friedman

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

By Stewart D. Friedman
Harvard Business School Press, 2008

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4 stars: Thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating materialTotal Leadership is adapted from Stewart D. Friedman’s popular class at the Wharton School of Business on building leadership skills in order to integrate work with the rest of life. Following a short, predictable exercise in identifying your core values, the book offers a framework for developing a plan to improve your life across four areas: work, home, community, and self.

Friedman’s method involves evaluating how you spend your time in each of the four areas, comparing that to your core values, and developing exercises that he calls “experiments” to create “four-way wins.” Four-way wins, as the name implies, are those activities or behaviors that result in improvements in all areas of your life simultaneously, as opposed to activities that improve one area at the expense of another. The main theme of the book is that balance is best achieved through integration rather than compartmentalization of work, home, community, and self.

Total Leadership is not meant to be read in one sitting; it is a workbook, of sorts, meant to be used methodically from start to finish over several months. The assessments and exercises are designed to provide the foundation for making meaningful change through the nine types of experiments described in the book. The author asserts that followers of his methods report an improvement in both satisfaction and performance in all areas and offers numerous examples of individuals who applied these techniques and are reaping the benefits of their work.

Total Leadership advises that each person should:

  • Be real: Act with authenticity to clarify what’s important;
  • Be whole: Act with integrity by respecting the whole person); and
  • Be innovative: Act with creativity to find new solutions.

For those who take the time to complete each step, Friedman promises greater clarity of purpose, more accomplishment at work, and more connectedness to people and causes that most matter.

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