RGS Leadership Development

Leadership  •  Culture  •  Capacity

Richard G. Smith, Ed.D.

About Me


If you want your staff to succeed—whether they’re employees on your workforce, teachers at your school, or volunteers with your organization—as their leader, you must provide them with a helpful, supportive and collaborative environment. Creating a positive working culture is essential for any organization to have sustained success. As one famous management guru says, “Culture and climate eats strategy for lunch.” I’ve seen this philosophy in action and believe it 100%.

However, this groundwork for success can’t exist without solid leadership, and that’s something many executives struggle with. It all starts with you. Your team looks to your positive example to determine which path they take—how you act, react to challenges, tackle crises, and interact with other people, that’s what makes the difference. If you establish a strong leadership example, people in your organization will thrive and results will follow. I have years of experience helping leaders establish that positive environment and culture of success, and I can help you do the same.

Experience and Accomplishments

Decades of experience serving educators in a diverse array of environments have given me unique insight in what it takes to be a leader—in schools, businesses and other organizations. Here are some of the key accomplishments I’m most proud of:

  • Leading a professional staff of more than 2,000 people
  • Engineering certification courses for the Illinois Principals Association, helping educators foster leadership skills and organizational excellence
  • Turning around a Special Education Program with 52,000 students in 700 schools with an $800 million budget; achievements include conserving costs with no loss of service and forging partnerships with stakeholders such as the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities, Family Resource Center for People with Disabilities and Ounce of Prevention
  • Transforming a small, 80-student facility into an exemplary early-childhood center with 350 students, using solid performance-management principles
  • Expanding and revamping occupational and physical-therapy services throughout Chicago Public Schools
  • Receiving the Outstanding Leadership Award from Chicago Public Schools
  • Serving on the boards of several area nonprofit organizations

MY Services

I noticed early in my career in administration meetings that people seldom discuss what it takes to be a leader. I’ve spent my career helping organizations bridge that leadership gap to achieve better results at every level. The training and coaching I provide directly addresses and provides practical techniques to meet the multitude of issues that all leaders face.

What I do

  • Offer mentoring and coaching services for aspiring, new or experienced leaders
  • Create and execute training and workshops for organizations committed to building leadership
  • Deliver keynote speeches on topics targeted to inspire and educate leaders

Targeted topics

I’ve been asked to provide keynote addresses, mentoring programs and leadership training for a number of schools, educators and organizations across the country. The targeted programming I’ve provided includes:

  • Understanding the importance of a positive culture
  • How to measure culture at your place of employment
  • Making sure you have the right people on the bus
  • How to keep your superstars
  • Managing difficult people or poor performers
  • Framing challenging conversations
  • Understanding what everyone wants in a leader
  • Being a genuine and authentic leader
  • Facilitating change organically
  • How to conduct, analyze and respond to the results of a 360-degree evaluation
  • The constructs of emotional intelligence, how they relate to leadership and how to improve emotional intelligence competencies
  • Relationship management styles and how they can or cannot create resonance with staff/employees
  • Using process fairness in all decision-making


It’s a point of personal pride that various organizations have repeatedly turned to me to streamline their programs, mentor their talent, lead their new and veteran staff, and keynote various conferences.


“The support I received from Dr. Smith helped me grow personally and professionally in order to find new ways to support my staff, improve our staff morale, and our school performance outcomes. The hands-on approach and modeling provided by Dr. Smith allowed me to have the confidence to implement strategies on my own. I took away strategies that improved my leadership while working with Dr. Smith, and tools to help me continue to improve after our time together.”

Sarah Rose, School Principal, Easter Seals Therapeutic School, Chicago

“Dr. Smith had a huge impact on the climate and culture of the building, working with staff to pinpoint and address the issue of tardiness. He collaborated with new staff to establish a manageable goal that we were able to start and finish together.  He assembled a team made of staff, students, and administration, then led us through the problem-solving process, establishing system and structures for students and staff. He also helped us develop and implement a school-wide monthly attendance challenge. As a result, tardies dropped by more than 50%.  HIs positive outlook and manner with dealing with problems in the building encouraged everyone to play a part in the success of our new attendance incentives.”

Julie Lyons, Assistant Principal, Mather High School

“Dr. Smith presented at recent Easterseals Chicago conferences. In Spring 2016, Dr. Smith presented our keynote presentation (360 Degree Leadership) and a breakout session (Leading Paraprofessionals). By popular demand, Easterseals asked him to return for our Fall 2016 conference, where he presented another session (Staff Management). At each event, nearly 100% of participants rated his talks positively in all categories. Attendees’ rave reviews included, “Session should be mandatory for all teachers,” “Phenomenal and inspiring! I’ll absolutely put these skills into practice,” and “Extremely helpful info to use in classroom. He should speak again next year. Dr. Smith is very inspirational and positive.”

Cassie Wells, Program Director, Easter Seals, Chicago

Dr. Smith brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, compassion and empathy to those working in educational administration. He demonstrates willingness to listen and asks the right questions to broaden my thinking, offers guidance, and introduces me to new ideas helpful to my career. Our conversations are personally and professionally rewarding. Through his coaching, I am now able to respond better to challenges at work.  His experience and knowledge has expanded my knowledge base, enhancing my professional and personal development. What’s more, he has has made significant efforts to stay in touch with me, to engage in meaningful discussions, and to share his own professional insights as they relate to my interests and goals as a school administrator. He is observant, kind and honest, and exactly what I hoped for in a mentor/coach.”

Therese Plunkett, Assistant Principal, Jones College Prep High School

“I purposely have attended several of Dr. Smith’s IAA classes. His engaging presentations were instrumental in shaping my leadership skills as a school administrator and continue to do so now that I am a district administrator. He has a way to provide feedback based on the current state in order to shift the culture you are in at the time. I was able to recognize where I could improve myself, the school/district culture and most importantly impact student outcomes! Because of Dr. Smith, I continue to think about ways to build relationships, expand capacity, grow school leaders and ultimately develop a school culture that is positive and motivated to do what is best for students.

–Sarah Dentz
Director of Special Education, Rhode Island

I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Richard Smith for two years. During this time, Dr. Smith provided administrative coaching and support. As an experienced administrator, I found that his coaching provided research based, yet practical approaches to tackle the complex role of the school principal. Dr. Smith’s genuine commitment to education and his passion for improving the education for the students comes through in his coaching. Conversations with Richard were like having a trusted friend stop by to offer valuable input and sound advice on how to deal with the many obstacles, challenges, and stresses of being a principal.

During our time together, he showed a genuine interest in helping to identify my areas of strength while developing my areas of growth. He is able to listen to understand so that the coaching is targeted and customized to my needs. The time I spent with Dr. Smith has enabled me to be a more reflective and responsive leader. Dr. Smith has my highest regards.

Teresa Chrobak-Prince
Principal, Hearst Elementary School

Contact ME

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Email: rgsmith730@gmail.com