Former Chief of Defence Staff, Canadian Forces
Bestselling Author on Leadership
Born in Newfoundland and Labrador, General Rick Hillier joined the Canadian Forces as soon as he could. Having enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1973 through the Regular Officer Training Plan program, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. After completing his armour officer classification training, he joined his first regiment, the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) in Petawawa, Ontario. Subsequently, he served with, and later commanded, the Royal Canadian Dragoons in Canada and Germany.
Throughout his career, General Hillier has had the privilege and pleasure of commanding troops from the platoon to multi-national formation level within Canada, Europe, Asia and the United States. He has worked as a staff officer in several headquarters, first at the Army level in Montreal and later at the strategic level in Ottawa.
In 1998 General Hillier was appointed as the first Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, US Army in Fort Hood, Texas. In 2000 he took command of NATO’s Stabilization Force’s (SFOR) Multinational Division (Southwest) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In May 2003 General Hillier was appointed as Commander of the Army and subsequently, in October 2003, he was selected as the Commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan. General Hillier was promoted to his present rank and assumed duties as the Chief of the Defence Staff on 4 February 2005.
He retired from the Canadian Forces in July 2008.
Professionals are always looking to advance and now their opportunity has arrived to do so. Despite what many think, leadership is not a “top down” concept. It is cultivated with humility and discipline. It merges the passion of the heart with the ability of the mind. Hillier notes leadership is all about people—embracing those you are in charge of and winning over those you need to work with—not about risk aversion or management fads. Leaders also act out of moral courage, take advantage of crises, accept failure and remain perpetually optimistic. Whether on the front lines of a business or in any situation that requires strong communication and vision, leaders go with their gut and make the tough decisions look easy.