How Veterinary Leaders Can Influence Change With a Cup of Coffee

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By Randy Hall

February 2, 2024

How a visit to Starbucks relates to our ability to influence our veterinary team’s behavior.

Recently, I experienced a simple yet profound act of kindness at a Starbucks drive-through. It was an ordinary day, and I was heading to a practice session, deciding to grab a coffee for the road. What happened next was unexpected and left a lasting impression on me.

A Surprise at the Drive-Through

As I approached the window to pay, the cashier greeted me with surprising news: my coffee had been paid for by the person in front of me. This random act of kindness was both stunning and puzzling.

The generosity of a stranger, whom I'd never get to thank, was a moment of pure altruism. They knew their kindness would go unthanked, yet they chose to do it anyway.

Passing it Forward

Inspired by this gesture, I decided to keep the chain going by paying for the coffee of the person behind me. The cashier shared that I was the third person in this spontaneous chain of kindness. This experience got me thinking about the deeper implications of such acts, especially in my professional life.

Changing Behaviors Through Kindness in Our Veterinary Practice

Changing behavior through kindness on towards your veterinary team

In my role working with veterinary practices, I often encounter the notion that changing others' behavior is challenging. However, this experience reminded me that while we can't directly change someone's behavior, we can influence their decisions. 

Just like the stranger’s act influenced me to pass on the kindness, we have the power to inspire change in others through our actions.

Veterinary Leadership and Positive Influence

As leaders, understanding the impact of our actions is crucial. Our behaviors can set a chain reaction, influencing our veterinary team's dynamics. The key lies in using our influence positively, to encourage growth and positive change within our teams.

Case Study: Shifting from Problem Solver to Empowerer

I recall working with a hospital manager overwhelmed with solving everyone's problems. This had become a habitual response. Through guidance, he shifted his approach by asking empowering questions like:

  • What do you think the solution should be?
  • Who else have you talked to about the best way to address this?
  • What have you done so far to fix the problem?

This small change in behavior led his team to become more independent problem solvers, enabling him to focus on broader practice improvements.

Small acts lead to big changes on a veterinary team

Conclusion: Small Acts, Big Impacts on Our Veterinary Team

Every action, habit, or decision we make influences how others perceive and react to us. It's crucial to be mindful of these behaviors, ensuring they contribute positively to our team's engagement and innovation. Sometimes, a simple act like offering a coffee can be the wake-up call that ignites change.

The unexpected gift of a coffee at a Starbucks drive-through was more than just a kind gesture. It was a reminder of the power we hold to influence and inspire change in others, even through the smallest of acts. 

As leaders, professionals, or simply individuals in our communities, we have the ability to create positive ripples that go far beyond the immediate moment.

How You Can Influence Change - VetLead
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