REVIEW: Lisa J. Koss — Leading for Learning (BOOK)

Colin Jordan
3 min readMar 5, 2021

Leading for Learning, a new book by Lisa J. Koss, introduces a program that develops the people-manager into a manager-coach, embracing learning and development as a leadership strategy. The book outlines the leadership development program, Development Coaching Model (DCM), authored by Koss with insightful background information and case studies that make it easy for the reader to absorb each lesson. Her program has already had remarkable success with organizations in 16 different countries.

Lisa makes a compelling case for organizations adopting such a leadership/development model particularly given the change that businesses are experiencing today. With increasing disruption of industries that is forcing employees into new or modified roles, the people-manager needs to be communicating with those individuals more than ever.

The book provides an excellent overview of research showing the effects of these changes on employee engagement. A Gallup poll from 2017 reported that only one third of employees in the U.S. reported being “engaged” with their employer and only one in five employees reported being managed in a way that motivated them to do great work. The numbers are even lower across the globe. Lisa’s research reveals the flipside to this data picture. Businesses that reported above-average employee commitment experienced greater one-year revenue growth relative to their peers.


The first section of the book provides additional background information which adds to Lisa proposition that learning and development should be more central to employee management. She discusses the need for psychological flexibility in learning given the pace of change underway, and the need for employees to embrace that change as part of their development.

Koss describes the enormous opportunity to improve the way organizations are preparing managers to become stronger developers of individual talent and improve employee retention. The six chapters of the book are a well-guided curiculum of Koss’s DCM program organized in clear and digestable segments of information.

The chapters address the different phases of the DCM ciriculum. Phase I focuses on how to develop the necessary trust between the manager-coach and coachee. Phase II and III train the manager-coach on how to address the challenge or dilemma facing the employee. Phase IV, V and VI delve into ways to partner on ideas to address the dilemma. Phases VII looks forward to the action plan that follows and looks back to reflect on learning.

The book also provides valuable resources including role-playing examples for various interactions, ideas to address common challenges and difficult discussions, and guidance on important coaching skills such as active listening and making assumptions that undermine engagement. Lisa also includes “wisdom points” which summarize topic-relevant insights from her decades of coaching experience.

Lisa’s examination of the manager-coach role and the benefits to employees are helpful not only when applied as manager to employee but are also helpful in a peer-to-peer relationship. Readers will find that becoming a manager-coach will develop valuable skills that can be applied to many areas of their lives that involve relationships. It will also increase their own self-awareness that can lead to amazing personal discoveries and growth.

Colin Jordan



Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer