How Leaders Improve

A Playbook for Leaders Who Want to Get Better Now

by John Gates, PhD, Jeff Graddy, PhD, and Sacha Lindekens, PhD


Outstanding leadership is highly sought after yet surprisingly difficult to achieve: studies suggest that between $12 billion and $50 billion is spent annually on leadership development efforts.

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Cover image for How Leaders Improve

October 2017


Pages 180
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Business/Leadership

Written by a team of highly experienced and successful executive leadership consultants, this book offers 10 data-driven insights regarding leadership effectiveness, accompanied by practical and easy-to-implement recommendations that directly serve the development of leadership ability.

What makes How Leaders Improve: A Playbook for Leaders Who Want to Get Better Now markedly different from and better than the scores of other books on the topic of leadership? Instead of dedicating their efforts to imparting wisdom on what makes a great leader, the three-person leadership training "dream team" behind this book explain how already-effective leaders can actually get better. How Leaders Improve is a data- and research-driven playbook for how any leader can improve their leadership abilities in a practical, immediate way. Authors Gates, Graddy, and Lindekens—all experienced executive coaches and leadership development consultants—have spent their careers developing leaders, and now they share 10 key insights derived from interviews with leaders who achieved significant improvements in their leadership effectiveness.

These data-driven insights are augmented by the authors' knowledge of the science behind human behavior change, as well as their experience in developing leaders. The book serves four audiences: leaders looking to improve themselves; organizational stakeholders with the responsibility of developing leaders; individual coaches or managers who want to boost their effectiveness in developing leaders; and educators in the fields of leadership, communication, organizational behavior, organizational psychology, and related fields.


  • Provides insights based on a sample of leaders who improved significantly over time, supplying findings that are based on actual research, not just opinion or anecdotal "evidence"
  • Offers practical and applicable recommendations for how individual leaders, organizations, and coaches/managers can apply the 10 insights shared in the book
  • Provides a novel framework for determining and assessing who is "ripe" for a leadership development opportunity (the RIPEN model), an effective way for individuals or organizations to determine in which leadership candidates to invest precious development resources
  • Supplies strategies for enhancing one's ripeness for a leadership development opportunity
Author Info

John Gates is a partner with Avion Consulting, a management consulting firm specializing in leadership, team, and organizational development. John provides coaching and counsel to leaders from the middle management to senior executive levels; he partners with clients in the design and implementation of high-impact leadership development solutions; and he works with management teams on issues related to both team and organizational effectiveness. John has a PhD from the University of Southern California.

Jeff Graddy is a partner with Avion Consulting, a management consulting firm specializing in leadership, team, and organizational development. Jeff advises senior leaders and their organizations on how to maximize business performance by focusing on leadership and talent development. His background in human performance and sport psychology helps him live out his passion for helping leaders get the best out of themselves and their people. Jeff received his PhD from the University of Florida.

Sacha Lindekens is a partner with Avion Consulting, a management consulting firm specializing in leadership, team, and organizational development. He consults with organizations to create robust leadership pipelines and enable executive teams to achieve their full potential. Sacha specializes in executive coaching and designing and delivering leadership development programs, and has a particular passion in assisting leaders to deploy emotionally intelligent leadership. He has published several articles on the topics of executive coaching and leadership development. Sacha received his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Florida.



"A revelation that allows the reader to connect the dots and view leadership as a measurable, developmental process. . . . This is an important and useful text. Bravo to the authors! Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."Choice


"There are a multitude of books detailing what great leaders do, but precious few that provide an effective roadmap for actually becoming better leaders. My experience as a career Navy SEAL officer and management consultant has taught me that people can indeed improve their leadership ability—and How Leaders Improve provides a valuable, practical, research-based approach to doing just that."
—Jason H. Booher, CEO, Northwest Harbor Solutions, U.S. Navy SEAL LT (Ret.)

"The Avion team has created a winner! They have written a practical, insightful playbook that can help anybody get better at leading people."—Bruce Bochy, Manager, San Francisco Giants

"Are you in search of an approach to leader effectiveness that will improve your impact immediately? In this thorough, deep dive into how a leader can improve, you will not get a quick, fleeting fix. Instead, you will get a methodical, practical, and timeless playbook for a lifetime of ongoing leadership development. I highly recommend this as a treasured tool for drawing the best out of yourself, your team, and your organization."—Dr. Jackie Freiberg, Author of the best-selling NUTS! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success and six other award-winning books

"How Leaders Improve is an invaluable resource for leaders looking to enhance their effectiveness in a sustainable manner. In particular, I find the RIPEN model to be an insightful and unique perspective that explains why some leaders wholeheartedly embrace development and get results and others give development lip service but don't make any real changes in their performance. Managers and L&OD professionals can put this book to good use in accelerating leaders' development."—Katsuyoshi Sugita, Head of HR, Microsoft Japan

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