Better Leader, Richer Life

University of Pennsylvania

The Total Leadership approach will help you become a better leader by having a richer life and have a richer life by becoming a better leader. Learn a practical, proven method for how to articulate your core values and vision; build trust with your most important people; and achieve "four-way wins" -- improved performance at work or in school, at home with your family, in your community, and for your self (mind, body, spirit). It's not about "work/life balance"; it's about creating harmony among the different parts of your life as a leader in all of them.

Life is a zero-sum game, right?  The more you strive to win in one dimension (such as your work or school), the more you have to sacrifice in the other dimensions (family, community, and the private self).  Described in the best-selling, award-winning book Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (Harvard Business, 2008) and in the soon-to-be published Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life (Harvard Business, 2014), this course teaches you a proven method that shows how you don’t always have to make trade-offs between life’s most important domains, and certainly not as often as you think.  Nor should you!  A trade-off mindset makes people feel all manner of stress – unfocused, resentful, and overwhelmed.  It hurts those you care about and prevents you from performing effectively to produce results that matter in every part of your life. 

In this course you learn how to articulate your values and personal leadership vision, cultivate supportive relationships with people who matter most in all parts of your life, and continually experiment with how you get things done to better align your actions with your values -- and so produce positive sustainable change.  This step-by-step method for pursuing what professor Stew Friedman calls "four-way wins" has enabled people all over the world to become more successful and satisfied leaders in all parts of life: work (or school), home, community, and the private self (mind, body, and spirit).         

This practical course has been taught to thousands of students at Wharton and elsewhere by Friedman since 2001. Over 94,000 enrolled in our first two sessions of this course in 2014, and the instructor rating for it was second-highest of all University of Pennsylvania courses on Coursera.  Here is a detailed analysis of course outcomes from Session 1.  Below are a few quotes from Coursera students:

I absolutely enjoyed this course. I have some wonderful new tools for my leadership toolbox and I plan to continue my experiments. Thank you Professor Friedman for your compassionate lectures. This was a great course. Very inspiring! -- M. W.

There is so much goodness in this course, I have been touched to see so many good people showing care and sensitivity to others through peer feedback and discussion forums that I find it soul cleansing.  The professor has been taking so much efforts to participate in so many discussion forums as well as conduct office hours to help us in our lives. I have found great learning from each of the discussion forums and have got different perspectives. Peer feedback is a wonderful opportunity for us to help others. -- V. S. 

Through your constant nurturing and defining of principles for being a better leader and leading a richer life I think we have all gained knowledge to be leaders in our lives, and it is through this kind of nurturing that all things are possible. Thank you for putting me back in touch with what makes greatness, the small wins that add up over time. Your methodology is simple, it is not always easy, but it is worthwhile. -- C.

Learn more at Total Leadership and the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project.  Like us on Facebook and follow on Twitter @StewFriedman.  


This course is about growing as a leader in all parts of your life and having fun while doing so. You watch video lectures, do weekly assignments (including conversations with important people in your life and real-world actions you take to improve your performance in all parts of your life), and take a final exam. 

You have the option of doing this course on your own (Individual Track) or in concert with others (Community Track). In the Individual Track you answer assignment questions in a journal for your own use. In the Community Track you post answers to these same questions and exchange feedback on them with your classmates.

Week 1:  Starting Total Leadership

  • 1.1: Launch your Total Leadership experience
  • 1.2: Learn the Total Leadership principles and method
  • 1.3: Assess your skills and define your goals
  • 1.4: Review our course plan

Week 2:  Clarifying What's Important

  • 2.1: Tell the story of your values 
  • 2.2: Share your leadership vision
  • 2.3: Take the four-way view
  • 2.4: Give and receive coaching 

Week 3:  Seeing Your Life as a System

  • 3.1: Identify key stakeholders
  • 3.2: Understand performance expectations
  • 3.3: See your life as a system you can change 
  • 3.4: Consider the media you use

Week 4:  Talking to Your Stakeholders

  • 4.1: Understand the purpose of stakeholder dialogues   
  • 4.2: Chart your course and then adjust it          
  • 4.3: Look through their eyes and find common ground  
  • 4.4: Build and restore trust

Week 5:  Thinking About Creating Change

  • 5.1: Glean insights from dialogues 
  • 5.2: Learn about Total Leadership experiments
  • 5.3: Generate ideas for your experiments   

Week 6:  Designing Experiments

  • 6.1: Choose the most promising idea 
  • 6.2: Set your game plan and scorecard
  • 6.3: Get in the game! 

Week 7:  Bringing Others Along With You

  • 7.1: Be artfully political    
  • 7.2: Build social capital
  • 7.3: Make a difference, beyond what you can see

Week 8:  Leading the Life You Want

  • 8.1: Learn how exemplary leaders integrate work and life  
  • 8.2: Choose the skills you want to focus on next  

Week 9:  Looking Back, Looking Forward

  • 9.1: Reflect on your progress and distill lessons
  • 9.2: Tell your leadership story 

Week 10:  Continuing the Journey

  • 10.1: Share the big ideas         
  • 10.2: Commence    

Recommended Background

No technical background is needed for you to have a fun and rewarding experience in our course.  You need an open mind, a willingness to look inside yourself, and an eagerness to try to enhance your capacity to perform in ways that improve your work, your home, your community, and your private self. 

Suggested Readings

We highly recommend (but do not require) that you read the books Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (Harvard Business, 2008), Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life (Harvard Business, 2014), and Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family (Wharton Digital Press, 2013) for details on the ideas and methods in our course.

Course Format

Our 10-week course consists of short lecture videos (two to four each week), weekly assignments (including conversations with important people in your life and real-world action to improve performance in all parts of your life), and a multiple-choice final exam that is an assessment of your knowledge of the content covered in the video lectures.

You have the opportunity to do practical exercises that help you clarify your values and vision, determine who matters most in your life and clarify expectations with them, and design experiments to create positive change in all parts of your life.  

Students in the Community Track exchange feedback on weekly assignments with other students.  Students in the Individual Track do not exchange feedback but complete short weekly quizzes about the lectures instead.


Why should I take this course?

Total Leadership is a proven method for producing sustainable change in all parts of life. Taught by Wharton School professor Stew Friedman, this course will help you identify your core values -- what’s fundamentally important to you -- and make them come alive in your everyday actions at work, at home, in your community, and within yourself. We call these “four-way wins”. By improving these areas of life simultaneously, you’ll be better poised to get more done with less stress, allowing you to produce stronger business results, find clearer purposes, connect more with people, contribute to important causes and generate greater support for generating change.

How have previous students benefited from the course? 

Here’s a link to a detailed analysis of course outcomes from Session 1 in April – June 2014. Over the years, Professor Friedman has asked thousands of participants to compare how they assess their satisfaction before and after they have participated in Total Leadership. Their levels of satisfaction increase by an average of 20 percent in their work lives, 28 percent in their home lives, and 31 percent in their community lives. Perhaps most significantly, their satisfaction with their own interior lives -- physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual -- increases by 39 percent. Similarly, they report that they believe their own performance at work, at home, in their communities, and within themselves has improved, respectively, by 9, 15, 12, and 25 percent.      

How is this different from traditional leadership development and self-help courses?

Total Leadership has a proven and measurable track record in improving the lives of its participants. Unlike most approaches to leadership development, which focus mainly on professional skills, Total Leadership is about performance in all parts of life. And, unlike most work/life and self-help programs, which focus more on family and personal needs than on business results, Total Leadership is about winning in all domains, including work, by creating mutual value among them. Finally, this course’s self-reflection process involves other people, which creates a system of accountability that helps you stick to your goals.

Why should I take you seriously, Stew?!?

Stew Friedman has taught at Wharton since 1984, is the founding director of the Wharton School’s Leadership Program and of its Work/Life Integration Project, and was formerly the head of Ford Motor Company’s Leadership Development Center. He was recently named one of the world’s top 50 business thinkers by Thinkers50 and was chosen by Working Mother as one of America’s 25 most influential men in having made things better for working parents. Stew also serves numerous advisory boards and has consulted for 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 is the real deal!

What type of person is this course tailored toward?

Any person who wants to find more balance in his or her life will find this course deeply enriching. This course will help to define your personal values and beliefs so that you can lead a more fulfilling existence at work, home, community, and for yourself. The tools are applicable to everyday situations so that you can always be improving in some way or another. Overall, this course requires productive reflection that will ultimately lead to a greater sense of harmony among the different parts of your life.

What if I don’t have a job right now? Should I still take this course?         

Everyone, no matter their current work situation, can benefit from this course. This course teaches you how to integrate all aspects of your life, not just work or school.

I have a good “work/life balance” already.  Would this course still be helpful? 

Absolutely! Total Leadership will teach you to analyze your current life situation (no matter how content you are with it) and will provide you tools and techniques that help to further enrich your life and increase your capacity as a leader in all aspects of your life.  You’ll learn how to move away from thinking about trade-offs among the different parts of life and toward integrating your domains for sustainable change. If you're like most of the thousands of past students, you will discover solutions that you didn’t even know existed.

How much of my personal life experiences will I need to share with others as part of the course?

While it is important to analyze aspects of your life to maximize the benefits of this course, you are in complete control of how much you share.  Your work will be reviewed by three other students, so please only include what you are comfortable sharing.

Is it necessary to read the Total Leadership book before or during the course?

It is not necessary to read the Total Leadership book for this course. During the course itself, various sections of the book are noted as optional assignments. But all necessary information will be conveyed through videos and online assignments.

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.  And you can earn an additional notation of "With Distinction" if you perform well on the Community Track exercises and the final exam.  It is not possible to earn a notation of “With Distinction” in the Individual Track.

What do experts have to say about Total Leadership?

“Stew Friedman shows how to harness your passions to pursue four-way wins – in your work, home, community, and most importantly, for yourself.” Billie Jean King, sports icon and social justice pioneer

"In the future, being a leader will require new ways to integrate work with the rest of one’s life, resulting in more effective leadership and a more fulfilling life. Total Leadership points the way."  Robert Reich, professor, University of California at Berkeley, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, and author, Supercapitalism

“Leading the Life You Want illustrates through compelling biographies the skills you need to … lead a life that truly blends meaning and happiness.” Melinda Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"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 Ferriss, author, The 4-Hour Workweek

"Total Leadership will help you build a life, not just a resume. Stew Friedman has written the owner’s manual for all types of leaders, young and old, who aspire to both professional success and personal fulfillment." Tom Tierney, Chairman and Cofounder, The Bridgespan Group, and former CEO, Bain & Company

For more information about Penn’s Online Learning Initiative, please go to:

  • 8 February 2015, 10 weeks
  • 5 October 2014, 10 weeks
  • 20 April 2014, 10 weeks
Course properties:
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  • Language: English Gb


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