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University of Pennsylvania

Better Leader, Richer Life

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

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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    

Taught by

Stewart Friedman


3.7 rating, based on 7 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Better Leader, Richer Life

  • Anonymous
    I work at a senior level in a challenging job and I found this to be an excellent course. I put a lot into it and did all the practical tasks. I particularly enjoyed the coaching tasks and I found the overall course to be excellent. I'm surprised by the negative reviews. I highly recommend this course.
  • I already knew all the stuff they were teaching. The professor was redundant, dry and boring as hell. He was not at all engaging. This was a dreadfully boring class.
  • This course was a revelation for me. I was hesitating to relaunch myself as a coach and mentor to executives and startups. Despite the course overall difficulty due to the volume of writing and peer marking in a language that is not my mother tongue and the fact that I got certified with distinction upon completion, I felt a lot more confident to go out there and apply the knowledge gained through "Total Leadership and the 4 Circles of Life" to my own holistic coaching methodology. My clients have thanked me a lot and made impressive and fast progress.
    I can't thank enough Professor Stew Friedman and his team. So far the best course, I took on Coursera.
  • If you would like to get a certificate with distinction, much effort is needed to put into the course, or you could choose the individual track!
  • Lesley Smith
  • Hans Ajay Bhargava

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