Great Leaders “Hit the Ground Learning”

When leaders are about to tackle a new leadership role, we often hear them say that they will “hit the ground running.” For years I have both believed personally and observed professionally that the best leaders determine to “hit the ground learning.”

While I do not know the complexities of being the Superindendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District (our local area school system), I was impressed with the introduction in today’s Ventura County Star of Ann Bonitatibus as the District’s new Superindendent. She is an outsider, coming from a similar role in Maryland.

Leaders don’t lead because of position they hold, they lead because of the influence they have. People in the current “here” trust and follow them to the new visonary “there.” Dr. Bonitatibus seems to get that.

When leaders “hit the ground running,” they often fail to build trust with those they will be leading. They may even damage the organization by failing to learn the organizational dynamics of culture and behavior. Leaders who “hit the ground learning” create space for those they lead to express their perspectives, dreams, fears, and frustrations about the current “here” of the organization. Without understanding the “here,” a leader can never lead the organizational stakeholders to the new and desired “there.”

Kudos to Dr. Bonitatibus for being clear about her desire to “hit the ground learning!”

Here is the section of the article in today’s Star that caght my attention:

New Conejo Vallley School District Superintendent, Ann Bonitatibus, said Tuesday her first step will be working with the district board to develop an entry plan that will let her “hit the ground learning.” She said she has the skills to hit the ground running, but she wants to work with the community, and that will take some learning.

“If you hit the ground running, you can run right past people, over them or through them,” she said. “If you’re not stopping, you might not hear people. You might miss what’s important to them.”

Moore, Jean C. “Conejo Valley District Hires New Superintendent.” Ventura County Star. N.p., 6 May 2015. Web. 6 May 2015. <>.

Link to the Ventura County Star Article