12/30/2014 12:42 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2015

Julián Castro Shares His Thoughts on Leadership

Julián Castro became secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in July after serving as mayor of San Antonio, Texas. He now is responsible for overseeing 8,000 employees and a budget of $46 billion, as well as for promoting community development and housing opportunities nationwide.

Castro talked about his leadership philosophy, improving employee morale at HUD and how he spends his time away from the office during a conversation with me, a guest writer for On Leadership. I am the vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and head of the organization's Center for Government Leadership. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q. How would you describe your leadership style?

A. I came up through local government, so it's a very close-to-the-ground approach. I think of myself as a "man in the crowd" type of leader, in the sense of being close to employees, getting a sense from them of the challenges and the opportunities that we have and what we need to do to be better. I've made a point of spending a lot of time walking the building at HUD and listening to employees. I also have been going to our regional and field offices. I've visited 28 cities and 18 states in less than five months.

Q. What advice do you have for other federal leaders?

A. Stay close to the workforce and the people you serve. That's why I love visiting with our employees across the United States and visiting with public housing residents. Secondly, have a strong vision of what you want to accomplish. One of the first things I did at HUD was set that vision. We call HUD the Department of Opportunity, and we've laid out six different items as part of the vision of what we want to do during the next two years.

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post website.