OMB deputy CIO gives her thoughts on how to be a successful leader

This week on Leaders and Legends, host Aileen Black talked about how to be an effective leader with Maria Roat, deputy federal chief information officer at the Office of Management and Budget. Roat said great leaders come in all shapes and sizes but added that the best ones are genuine, with a passionate clear communication style that empowers and inspires those whom they lead.

Interview highlights:

  • Roat believes that to be a successful leader, “Depending on the situation and mission you may need to alter your approach.” She added that your style may need to change based on the mission, and sometimes you have to go from being the coach to being more collaborative.
  • Early in her career Roat worked for the Navy. Good leaders communicate clearly when sharing mission objectives and vision. She said she learned from mentors early in her career that it is important to “clearly cast your vision” to help those understand the goal of the mission.
  • When asked about women and leadership, Roat felt that women bring a different life perspective and often bring stronger soft skills to the table. Women also have a tendency to have stronger listening skills, she said, which in times of stress can be a huge advantage like in dealing with crisis like COVID 19.
  • When asked about what is the relationship between leadership and culture, Roat shared that she keeps the quote from legendary management consultant Peter Drucker on a white board:   “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s not that strategy isn’t important, she said, but rather that a powerful and empowering culture is a better way to achieve success.
  • Another favorite quote Maria tries to live by is E.B White’s, “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”
  • Maria closed the show with her advice for the next generations. She said “Follow your passion. Find what you are interested in. Do what you like to do then your work won’t be just a job. If you follow your passion you will be happy.” Maria has three daughters and has instilled this belief. Now each one is successfully achieving her dreams. 

Roat was previously the Small Business Administration chief information officer, and served at the departments of Homeland Security and Transportation in a number of technology leadership positions. She began her career in the Navy as a data processing technician and later worked for the Department of the Navy in various technology and engineering positions. She was in the private sector for five years, deploying and managing global enterprise technology programs. Roat retired from the Navy in 2007, with 26 years of active duty and reserve service, in which she obtained the rank of master chief petty officer, Information Systems Technician.

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Leaders and Legends

Leaders and Legends

Host Aileen Black interviews federal leaders who have left their mark on government and made a lasting imprint on the nation. Hear what goes on behind the scenes in the nation's capital and why working for the federal government is so unique. Subscribe on PodcastOne.

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