What do we like about Stew Friedman, (who Jamie met while he was doing consulting work at Ford Motor company many years ago)? Well, for starters, Friedman believes the best leaders “act with authenticity.” And that starts with clarifying what’s important, seeing the whole person at work — worker, colleague, member of a family and of a community — and treating them with integrity and respect.

Stewart, who learned lessons about listening as a former cab driver, directs the Wharton Work/Life Integration project at University of Pennsylvania. He is another voice in the chorus of those who argue that people need meaning and purpose at work. Like we do, he sees the great opportunity we have, amidst the rubble of a collapsed economic system, to reinvent organizations and provide work/life integration.

His recommendation for dealing with a painful situation? Talk about it.

The worst thing a leader can do in the wake of lay-offs or other bad news at work? Denying the pain, or saying “suck it up” as you pour on more work.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out his interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer or his book, Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (Harvard Business Press, 2008.)

We also like the contention of blogger Steven Demaio, who writes for the Harvard Business review. It’s not only the leaders that have to step up when in it come to transparency and re-invention, he writes. The responsibility belongs to everyone. Anyone “can embrace the excitement that comes with re-equipping ourselves, both materially and psychologically, to anticipate and respond deftly to changing circumstances.”

And we like Steven’s suggestion that authentic conversation can become addictive.

“Once leaders detect a widespread interest in and demand for that type of dialogue, they recognize it's in their interest to engage in it,” Demaio writes. “In times like ours, those at headquarters are often the ones waiting for orders from their people, not the other way around.”

If he is correct, and we hope he is, it’s time for everyone to step up.