total leadership

Total Leadership Book Summary and My Thoughts

Be real. Be Whole. Be Innovative.

This is the 21st book in the series Learning Together and Leading Together where we are going through the Personal MBA plan curated by Josh Kaufman. Our goal is to get through 99 books this year. Do we read the whole book? Nope. We digest the summary(s) of the book and I give my thoughts and you give your thoughts. Feel free to follow along and comment if you would like.

The best summary I found can be found here and is quoted below:

Book Summary of Total Leadership by Stewart D. Friedman:

Stewart Friedman is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Given this knowledge, you might think that his book, Total Leadership, is about how to become a corporate king in the style of Donald Trump or Peter Lynch (two of the more famous Wharton alumni).But if you guessed that, you’d be wrong. The subtitle of Friedman’s book is the giveaway that one shouldn’t judge a book by its first title: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life.

Friedman sets the tone in the opening pages of the book with a personal story about a moment that changed his career from a business professor to someone who wanted to bring his “whole” person to work with him. He soon realized that understanding the linkages between his work and the rest of his life wasn’t just a temporary fixation, it was his calling. Without specifically calling it out, Friedman creates a simple and powerful “three-legged stool” structure in his book that would serve as a great road map for any leader or aspiring leader. The three legs are: authenticity, integrity and creativity.

The first section of the book about authenticity guides the reader through anecdotes and exercises to help clarify what’s most important to him/her, including core values. Through a simple exercise, Friedman challenges the reader to put his/her life into the context of four interlocking circles: home, self, work and community.

Next, a section about integrity has the reader thinking about all of the stake- holders in their lives — at work, at home and everywhere in between. What are the expectations of the people in the various aspects of the reader’s life, and what are his/her expectations of them?

The final section of the book is about innovation and creativity. Innovation is easily one of the most talked about topics in business today, but Friedman encourages the reader to take the notion of innovation through experimentation beyond the work role to the other aspects of one’s life: home, self and community. His exercises will coach the reader through “small wins” via creativity on the way to bigger wins and the always- tricky area of change management.

My Thoughts: 

There is a stool in the Orange offices that is made up of 3 legs. Those 3 legs have words engraved in the wood that say: Message, Influence, and Structure. Reggie Joiner, who leads the organization, will tell you that it takes all 3 of these types of people to make the organization run effectively and efficiently. I love this stool and this idea.

In the book Total Leadership it is broken down to 3 sections and 3 ideas as well. If you want to be an effective and efficient leader then your 3 legged stool would say: Be real, Be whole, Be Innovative. I wish it was easy to be real, whole, and innovative. It is not. These are learned skills that are not intuitive.

The issue with both the 3 things that Reggie Joiner brings up and the 3 things that the book brings up is that it is an adventure ahead of the organization and your leadership. To many times in my life I want both now. I don’t want to have to wait. It is only through making decisions and teams working together that the 3 legged stool will stand.

What do you think about when you read this book?

If you need a hard copy of the book go here: [amazon_enhanced asin=”1422103285″ /]



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