Leadership Lessons from Jim Wetrich

I had the privilege of interviewing Jim Wetrich, President of the U.S. Wound Care Division and General Manager of Mölnlycke Health Care, United States & Latin America. Jim graciously shared some of his insights and perspectives in response to a wide-range of questions; below are a few nuggets of wisdom and advice from this successful healthcare leader:


Demonstrate Integrity & Passion

I asked for just one or two words of advice that Jim could give his fellow healthcare leaders.  He responded with two words – the first was “Integrity:”


“It takes a lifetime to develop and can be lost in a nanosecond.  Once it’s gone… it’s gone.  Nobody can take integrity away from you.  Only you can lose it or give it away.  Don’t ever do anything that puts you in a situation where you feel compromised… just don’t do it. Integrity is the currency of business.”


The second word Jim offered was “Passion:”


“If you don’t have passion, you are just not doing the right thing.  Sometimes the best thing we can do for people is to help them find their passion, even though that may result in that person leaving your organization.”


Find Meaningful Work

Jim talked about how important it is for a person to find meaningful work – work for which a person truly has high interest and enduring passion. He gave an example from his own life: “On the ground floor of helping the University Health Consortium carry out its vision through creation of the very successful purchasing programs for pharmacy during 1985 through 1987, I experienced tremendous learning, growth and satisfaction – and it is still going strong.  Truly great people to work with – I have been richly rewarded and very much blessed being around those people.”


Be Engaged

Jim emphasized the importance of truly being engaged and involved in your work, sharing something Karl Bays, the former CEO and chairman of American Hospital Supply, used to say: “Would the spectators kindly leave the field?”  Jim explained, “You need to be a part of what is going on, or you need to get out of the way.  Get in and play or just get out of the way.”



Never Stop Learning & Improving

Jim, who loves to learn and recently completed a second master’s degree, urges healthcare leaders to be life-long students; “Listen, watch, read, evaluate, compare… then internalize, and most importantly, apply the very best – and your very best – to whatever situation in which you find yourself.  This is extremely important!”


Stop, Listen, & Learn

“There is so much we can learn from each other.  We are just too busy.  We need to take the time to stop and listen to those who are important to us.  This is time well spent.  We are just too busy for our own good these days.  We don’t stop at all these days, not to mention listen!”


Develop, Support, Nurture & Mentor Others 

“I am very committed to helping people develop and I am very committed to continuous self improvement – both for myself and for those with whom I work.  I like what Tim Russert used to say: ‘The best exercise for the human heart is to bend down and pick someone else up.’  Robert Kennedy said ‘You’re happiest while you’re making the greatest contribution.’  To me, the greatest contribution is helping and supporting others as they become what they choose to be.”


Seek Diversity

I asked Jim what he would do differently if he could live his life over again. He responded, “I would increase diversity in all areas of my life – whether in high school, college, graduate school or throughout my personal and professional life.  Diversity adds incredible value, perspective and applicable knowledge, both personally and professionally.”



Jim concisely summed up one of the most essential pieces of advice any leader could receive – take action; “Nothing happens unless you execute!  You’ve got to execute!  You’ve got to make it happen.”


Excellent advice from one of America’s healthcare leaders!


Copyright © 2012 by Dan Nielsen, Founder

National Institute for Healthcare Leadership  – www.nihcl.com

America’s Healthcare Leaders  – www.americashealthcareleaders.com

Dan Nielsen Company – www.dannielsencompany.com

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