06/26/2015 03:20 pm ET Updated Jun 26, 2016

How Top Federal Leaders Define Leadership

During the past several years, I have asked a number of Cabinet secretaries and other top Obama administration officials about their leadership philosophies and styles, and the lessons they have learned from managing a large workforce. I decided to collect highlights from their answers in one place, in the hope that they offer current and aspiring leaders a few important tips about focusing on the mission, setting expectations and engaging more meaningfully with employees.

When asked about his leadership and management philosophy, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said, "Whether you're a first-line supervisor or the head of an entire agency, you should be asking career staffers: What do you think?"

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said "the biggest priority in any leader's job is to put together a team and really empower the team. Another thing I've been trying to do is provide a culture where people are proud to work, feel appreciated and understand the mission."

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy noted "my goal is to make sure that we set clear expectations. I'm a big believer in keeping my eye on where we want to go, but really listening to people about the best way to get there. It's important to engage people so that when you're asking your people to do something, they know why and they know that they are capable of doing what you're asking them to do."

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This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.