Michelle Copley’s Shepherd Story

How improving her communication led her becoming a more effective leader

High-level Overview

The challenge:

Michelle was struggling to communicate and build a healthy relationship with a critical team member. This strained relationship decreased her department’s efficiency while spending money on services that other departments could fulfill internally.

The solution:

Michelle uncovered the Driving Forces of her team member and adapted her communication style. This allowed her to speak the same language as her team member, improving their relationship and saving the company $200,000 – $300,000 by improving efficiency.


CCI Systems, Inc.—a leading provider of telecommunications solutions and services.


Iron Mountain, Michigan.


🍦Driving Forces Behavioral Science

🍦Shepherd of the Talent Training

What’s at the core of effective leadership? Growing and developing those around you.

And how do you grow and develop people? Through effective communication.

Let me ask you: How well do you communicate with your team?

If communicating with your team is challenging, connecting with and developing your team will be difficult.

But a common pushback I hear from leaders like that is that they “lead by example.” Thus, nullifying their responsibility to improve their communication.

They believe if their team sees them working hard, everything else falls into place (i.e., healthy relationships, high performance, and trust). But does that work? For Michelle, it didn’t.

“I was always taught, learn from the person above you and lead by example. So, watch what they do and how they do things and then lead by their example. I did a lot of leading by example. And it wasn’t going very well for me at all.”—Michelle Copley (Employee Engagement Manager)

Michelle is the Employee Engagement Manager at CCI Systems and a certified Shepherd of the Talent.

But before becoming a Shepherd of the Talent, Michelle faced challenges with communicating as a leader. Specifically, it was around improving a relationship with a particular team member.

“I wasn’t connecting. When asked, ‘What relationship do you want to make better?’ I kept coming back to the same one over and over.”

But it wasn’t all Michelle’s fault. She was facing a steep challenge being the fourth manager assigned to “course correct” this team and tasked with improving the recruiting efforts.

Because of the strained relationship the recruiting team had with the internal business unit, recruiting for them was difficult. This hurt productivity, created inefficiencies, and provided a bottleneck for future growth.

Because no one had solved this challenge, there was no example for Michelle to follow. This put Michelle in a rough spot.

“I needed someone on my team to take this challenge, however I was also having performance issues within my team. My initial conclusion was that they obviously don’t understand what I want, because they’re not doing it. Or maybe they’re just not capable. That was not the case at all. I just wasn’t speaking the right language to motivate them.”

Michelle was unable to motivate, build trust, and improve the relationship because she wasn’t speaking the right language.

Have you felt that before?

It’s like two people speaking different languages; no matter how much effort they exert, it will be challenging to communicate with each other.

Michelle struggled to find the right language until she attended the Shepherd of the Talent training.

But before I get into how the training transformed her communication ability, I want to cover the concept of the Shepherd of the Talent quickly.

At a high-level, a Shepherd of the Talent cares for, develops, and holds accountable the people they are responsible for.

At work: The Shepherd of the Talent develops each team member to higher performance and greater job satisfaction.

At home: The Shepherd of the Talent develops a career plan with their children or close family members to help them optimize their talents to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Almost every leader I share this concept with agrees that this should be the north star for all leaders.

But then what is holding people back from becoming a Shepherd of the Talent on their own? The conclusion to Michelle’s story will answer that for you.

Let’s pick back up where we left off, discussing how the training transformed Michelle’s communication ability.

“Here, I thought I was adding more skills to my leadership repertoire. But what I got out of it was so much more.”

For Michelle, the training did far more than inspire her to be a better leader. The training equipped her to leverage behavioral science to improve her communication style leading to healthier relationships.

Behavioral science is a core piece of our training. The full Shepherd of the Talent Training agenda looks like this:

  1. Training on DISC and how to use it in all talent processes —Half day
  2. Training on Driving Forces (Motivators)and how to use it in all talent processes —Half day
  3. Training on Soft Skills and how to use it in all talent processes – 2 Full days

The first half-day session was a recap for Michelle.

“Prior to coming to CCI systems, I used a behavioral science-like assessment (DISC) to help our sales team. I would train on it and I really got into the different behavior types. That was my favorite class to train!”

So then, what gave Michelle the breakthrough leading to better communication?

The second half-day session—the Driving Forces segment.

“When I learned about the driving forces and saw the difference, I was like, wow. The why we do what we do (Driving Forces = The why) versus how we do it (DISC = The how). It was the game changer and that’s when I started speaking their language.”

“I understood how they approached people and tasks (DISC). But being able to pick up on the why (Driving Forces) created a much healthier relationship. The DISC assessment is a great tool. But when you can find out what drives someone (their why), it takes the relationship to the next level.”

The Driving Forces science was the tool that allowed Michelle to speak her team’s language, which led to finally resolving the strained relationship.

But it wasn’t merely the knowledge that led to her improvements. She learned how to use the Driving Forces science to have the tough conversations that lead to building successful relationships.

So what does life look like now for Michelle and her team of recruiters?

“I hear kudos from everyone that works with them (the internal recruiting team). Just two weeks ago the senior leadership team with the president of the company, brought their name up as someone who’s doing an amazing job building relationships, understanding their business, and digging deeper to bring more valuable candidates to their team.”

That’s excellent news for Michelle! But what effect did this have on her entire organization?

“We went from outsourcing recruitment in that particular business unit to now having our internal team handle the recruitment efforts and we’re saving the company a lot money. The company would spend $200,000 to $300,000 a year on external recruiting. But now that the business unit trusts the internal recruiting team to find the right candidates for them, we cut all of that external spending. They now can put that money towards making their investment into the person they hired.

That last point is crucial.

When you decide to become the Shepherd of the Talent, you shift from reactive to proactive. Instead of losing money on people problems, you proactively resolve them through effective communication, allowing you to invest that money back into your people.

Whether you find yourself in Michelle’s shoes or want to grow your leadership capabilities through effective communication, The Shepherd of the Talent training will help you.

To learn more about the training, click here.

If you want more information or to discuss if this is right for you, email Cindy, our Client Service Manager, at Cindy@stopthevanilla.com.