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Rick  Lynch

Rick Lynch

Battle Tested Army General & Author of Adapt or Die


With 34 years in the US Army at his heel, Lieutenant General Rick Lynch has distinguished himself as an exceptional leader and strategist through his chameleon-like ability to adapt to change despite the most challenging obstacles. From surmounting his parents’ inability to pay for college by gaining entry to West Point to leading “The Surge” in Iraq as Army General with only six weeks to prepare, Lieutenant General Lynch has constructed a disciplined and effective mantra for success, which he shares with audiences across the country today. Read More >

From company (about 100 soldiers) to corps (about 65,000 soldiers) to the head of all US Army installations, Lynch steadily climbed his way up, eventually commanding at all levels. Matching the professional acumen of established business leaders, he was responsible for managing all the installations in the US Army with an annual budget of $12 billion and a workforce of 120,000. Combining this impeccable work ethic with an open heart, he also effectively lowered divorce and suicide rates at Fort Hood, Texas, by outlawing weekend work and mandating soldier family time.

In his commanding presentations, Lynch captivates audiences with the tenor of his voice and the approachable, conversational nature of his tone. Drawing on his personal experience in and out of combat, he powerfully illustrates his principles, from the foundation of business leadership to the need for resiliency and engagement. There are only 50 three-star generals in the nation and Lieutenant General Rick Lynch is one of them.

Born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, Lynch attended West Point where he ranked in the top 5% of his class. He was then commissioned as a regular army engineer officer in command of both a combat engineer company and a mobile assault bridge company in the 17th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Division.

He obtained his MA in mechanical engineering with a concentration in robotics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. As colonel, he commanded the army’s first ever Digital Brigade, which emphasized the use of advanced technologies in combat—and which would become essential on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From 2003 to 2005, as deputy chief of staff for operations and commander of the Allied Joint Force command, he was responsible for planning and executing operations across NATO’s southern region to include all Balkans operations and Operation Active Endeavor.

From 2005 to 2006, as deputy chief of staff for strategic effects, he led a multi-national force in Iraq responsible for integrating the governing, economic, and communication lines of operations as described in the MNF-I campaign plan with the US Embassy and the government of Iraq.

That same year of 2006, he led 25,000 soldiers into Iraq as part of “The Surge” and occupied the worst part of the country, conducting major combat operations for the following six months. He then focused on capacity building—reconstructing the country’s government and economy and creating jobs, among other endeavors.

From 2007 to 2009, he commanded a multi-national division deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom as commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, where he was responsible for 26,000 soldiers and 6,300 vehicles and aircrafts. He was also responsible for all operations on a major military post, which included upholding the morale and well being of 83,000 soldiers, family members, and civilian employees, all on an annual budget of approximately $624 million.

Upon his return from Iraq, he assumed command of III Corps and Fort Hood, where he commanded a mobile army corps of 64,000 soldiers and the largest installation in the free world.

Most recently, his positions as Commanding General of the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM) and as the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Instillation Management (ACISM) put him in charge of developing service and infrastructure sites around the world, including facility construction and maintenance, improving service delivery at a reduced cost, and the US Army’s energy and environmental programs.

Lieutenant General Rick Lynch retired from active duty on January 1, 2012.

Over the course of his seasoned career, Lynch was able to witness and experience vast changes in the army and across the globe. As a cadet, he welcomed the first female cadets into the Academy; during the Vietnam War, he saw the transition into an All Volunteer Army; and while stationed in Germany in 1989, he witnessed the collapse of East Germany and its reintegration into the West. From his deployment in the first Gulf War to Kosovo and Iraq, he acquired a unique perspective as a witness to the best and worst in his fellow man and was awarded a soldier’s medal for heroism while deployed to Desert Shield / Desert Storm.

Today, he is the executive director for the University of Texas at the Arlington Research Institute (UTARI), for which he develops strategic partnerships between the faculty and staff and industry and government—both state and federal—in order to commercialize technology.

His new book, Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General, provides unprecedented clarity to leaders from all walks of life. In it, Lynch offers insight born from overcoming adversity on both the battlefield and in the boardroom. With refreshing directness, he shares how to gain the confidence needed to lead in our ever-changing world. Read Less ^

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Adaptive Leadership

Speech Topics

Leadership Principles from an American General

Ascending from Platoon Leader with 30 people under his command to the head of all US Army installations, Lieutenant General Rick Lynch has been able to clearly identify the qualities an effective leader needs. In this engaging presentation, Lynch will walk you through the nine leadership principles he has come to embrace over his 34 years in the US Army. They are the following:

  • Look down, not up: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • Decide when to decide: Take the time to think.
  • Be an engaged leadership: Love your subordinates like you love your own children.
  • Focus on opportunities, not obstacles.
  • Be demanding but not demeaning: Everyone must perform to their fullest potential.
  • Be a mentor: Be accessible, actively listen, and truly care.
  • Always celebrate diversity: Don't surround yourself with people like you!
  • Achieve a work-life balance.
  • Have fun: If the boss ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

Adaptive Leadership

The 21st-century leader faces a set of unprecedented challenges. Rapid change is the new normal and leaders with a keen ability to adapt are in high demand. Rick Lynch has lived his life by adapting to rapidly changing scenarios - overcoming obstacles not only big and small, but life or death. From surmounting his parents' inability to pay for college by gaining entry to West Point to leading "The Surge" in Iraq with only six weeks to prepare; from reinvigorating a bloated Army organization of 120,000 civilian employees (via billion dollar budget cuts) to lowering divorce and suicide rates at Fort Hood by outlawing weekend work and mandating soldier family time; from training in the robotics labs of MIT to rebuilding economies in a foreign nation and speaking to national news media in the middle of a war, Rick Lynch has faced more than most leaders will in a lifetime - which is why his lessons on how to adapt will inspire and provide unprecedented clarity to leaders from all walks of life.