Lancaster General CEO: Pay attention to the little things

It’s the small things that make a big difference.

Lancaster General Health CEO Jan Bergen doesn’t underestimate how those little things — emotional connections, continuous improvement, the impact of a small story — can have a positive impact on an organization. Those are leadership qualities that she carries through every day.

If you get a chance to chat with her, you are likely to hear one of those small stories — a story that emphasizes the bigger picture at Lancaster General.

A recent Rotary meeting brings one to mind.

“A gentleman approached me to tell me about the care his mother received,” she said. His 98-year-old mother was near her end of life, but she was restless, Bergen said.

“They held her hand, gave her the personal touch,” Bergen said of the nurses. “It was a small act of kindness that meant so much to her son … that they take the time to listen.”

Pay attention to the small stories

Stories like that can inspire and rekindle something in you. It brings that emotional connection, that emotional response that’s so important in the care patients need and the feedback that the staff needs to hear, Bergen said.

“It builds a sense of pride,” Bergen said. “Pay attention to the small stories. They don’t have to be huge things.”

And celebrate those successes, she said. Look for continuous improvement in your workplace. Take the time to help change the outcome where it’s needed, find the balance and focus on the areas to improve.

“Health care workers have really difficult work and we have to find a way to help them,” she said.

Surround yourself with better people

Bergen also understands the need to be self aware and self reflective.

It happens sometimes in her drive home from work, when she tends to look back on what and where she can improve.

“How do I learn? That’s what works for me,” she said.

That doesn’t work for everyone, and she knows what her natural gifts are, where she excels, and she understands the areas that she needs improvement. 

“I surround myself with people who do well at what I know I am not good at,” she said. “I hire people better than me.”

And with her position, she is always Lancaster General’s CEO, seven days a week. It’s a public figure, always.

“As a local leader I always have to be on,” she said.

Can that be exhausting?

“Yes, absolutely,” she said. But there are nice surprises that come with the territory.

She’s really touched when she is approached by both women and men in the community who let her know how important it is that their children can look up to a woman leader, a role model in the community.

“What a gift that is,” she said.

Cathy Hirko
Cathy Hirko is managing editor, news, for the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business. Email her at chirko@cpbj.com.

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