Preston Smith on What It Means to Be a Leader

In Chapter 13 of 22 in his 2014 Capture Your Flag interview, elementary charter school network CEO Preston Smith answers "What Does It Mean to Be a Leader in What You Do?" As CEO, Smith finds leading means putting people in places where they an do their best work. Leading means staying above the politics and not being divisive in his thinking. Leading means framing things in a positive way and avoiding an us versus them mentality. Finally, leading means embracing the responsibility that as a leader he will often be the one needing to make the tough decisions that often will be unpopular.

Preston Smith is co-founder and CEO of Rocketship Education, the highest performing low-income school system in California. After graduating the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Smith joined Teach for America. After three years teaching 1st Grade, he founded a district school in San Jose and became its principal. Smith was selected as a member of the 2010 class of Aspen Institute New Schools Fellows.