Growing the StrengthsFinder ‘Responsibility’ Talent Theme

Growing the StrengthsFinder ‘Responsibility’ Talent Theme

‘Responsibility’ in a nutshell…


People exceptionally talented in the Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.


Theme Description

Your Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme forces you to take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, and whether large or small, you feel emotionally bound to follow it through to completion. Your good name depends on it. If for some reason you cannot deliver, you automatically start to look for ways to make it up to the other person. Apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. You will not quite be able to live with yourself until you have made restitution. This conscientiousness, this near obsession for doing things right, and your impeccable ethics combine to create your reputation: utterly dependable. When assigning new responsibilities, people will look to you first because they know it will get done. When people come to you for help — and they soon will — you must be selective. Your willingness to volunteer may sometimes lead you to take on more than you should.

What’s the power of the Responsibility talent theme?


The genius of Responsibility talents stems from the deep commitments you make to others and the ownership you feel. Because you are a person of your word, people trust you and count on you.


The genius of your Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme is found in the depth and the quality of relationships you are able to form with people. Because you are a person of your word, people trust you. It is this trust that bonds you to others and bonds others to you. Your ability to build trusting relationships is foundational to any influencing relationship. Therefore you tend to have a highly persuasive and influential impact on people. This talent can be used in leadership as people will only willingly follow those they trust, and trust is what you have the genius to generate in others. The final aspect of the genius of your Responsibility theme involves the level of commitment you can generate in others. This stems from the fact that you make such deep commitments to others and from the fact that you make such deep commitments to their full development and personal fulfillment.

How do I grow the Responsibility talent theme?

1. Define what matters most to you.

People with the Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme take great psychological ownership of what they say and do. But what exactly they take ownership of differs from person to person. For one individual, it might be a strong commitment to his family, in which case he’ll make it a point to get home punctually to spend time with his wife and children. For another, it might be a strong commitment to her beliefs, in which case she’ll invest most of her time and energy making sure that her choice of career, words, and actions line up with these beliefs. When those with the Responsibility talent theme are clear on the overarching purposes they want to fulfill in their lives, then they are truly able to embody these ideals.

2. Volunteer for roles or tasks you want to take greater ownership of.

Individuals with the Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme are self-starters who require very little supervision to complete assignments. They thrive on new responsibilities and can deal with them very effectively. That being the case, one way to grow this talent theme is to identify areas in which they’d like to volunteer for more duties. They flourish when they realize that others are counting on them for a vital function of the team, which will in turn push them out of their comfort zone and cause them to grow so that they are able to fulfil their promises.

3. Learn to say “no” or “can I get back to you?”

Ironically, because those with the Responsibility talent theme thrive on being seen as dependable and trustworthy, they can sometimes take on more than they can handle. In fact, it’s been my experience that many with the Responsibility theme are especially prone to burning out: rather than setting clear boundaries for themselves, they push themselves well beyond their limits just so they follow through on their commitments. Eventually, something gives way and they end up dropping the ball — a notion that those with Responsibility loathe. For this reason, one key skill that they must learn is saying no, or making sure to check their schedule and existing commitments before they take on something new.

How could this theme be overplayed?

Who’s the best person to take on a task? Because they’re so dependable, the answer for those with Responsibility is often, “I am.” But taken to an extreme, this mentality can actually be disempowering for those without the Responsibility theme. For instance, when they’re in managerial roles, those with Responsibility can often find themselves nagging or micro-managing their staff, or simply taking everything upon themselves and not delegating work (and then burning out). Without a healthy self-awareness of this tendency, the overextension of the Responsibility theme could actually be detrimental to the team.

Three Practical Ways to Manage This Theme:

  1. Learn to identify the best people for the task. Although it may feel quite natural for you to do everything yourself, that may not be the most efficient delegation of tasks in the team. For instance, at Strengths School™, I wanted to help out more with the team’s workload, so I started taking on some of the marketing and design tasks. But then I realized that what took me a few hours of work took another colleague a mere 10 minutes — and while I didn’t enjoy it much, he enjoyed it immensely because of his Ideation strength. So instead, I learned to tap on his area of strength, and have developed a greater appreciation for him as a result!
  2. Have a paradigm shift in understanding trust. Those with Responsibility tend to equate trust with tasks being completed. The view that “trust needs to be earned” is a perspective often embraced by someone high in Responsibility. However, an alternative view of trust can reduce heartache. The alternative view, “trust is to be given,” seeks to value others’ intentions above task completion. Paradoxically, this view creates greater trust in a team. When a person with Responsibility (especially a leader) shows grace to the individual despite his/her inability to complete a task, they can become more motivated to fulfill the commitments they have agreed to because of the trust shown. For people with Responsibility, such an alternative view of trust also enables one to be more embracing of others who do not have “Responsibility” as one of their dominant strengths and expands the individual’s capacity to lead by example.
  3. Be a champion for others in helping them take greater ownership. Instead of only thinking about various tasks and roles you could take greater ownership of, consider channeling your Responsibility theme in becoming a champion for someone else. Just as you have defined what matters most to you, help others define what matters most to them and proactively encourage them to grow into those areas. As someone with Responsibility, you bring a sense of trustworthiness, assurance, and stability to people’s lives. You can use your natural talent in Responsibility to build a platform for others to find their own success.

Concluding Thoughts: A large proportion of the world has the Responsibility StrengthsFinder theme amongst their dominant talents, and it is not hard to guess why. Without the steady dependability of this theme, empty promises would be commonplace and it would be difficult for people to trust what another says. Yet this core desire of those with Responsibility to be seen as dependable and trustworthy can also be misdirected, particularly if this talent theme is in its infancy stage. To counter this, individuals with Responsibility must learn to identify their strengths as well as their limitations, understanding on a deep level what they ultimately want to be committed to. This clarity of purpose and vision will help to bring direction in what they take on, allowing them to be fully committed to living out of the one big “YES” in their lives.

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Written by Tan Meiling

Responsibility • Learner • Relator • Belief • Harmony

Meiling is a writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder Coach based in Singapore. As a StrengthsFinder® Coach, she is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.


Copyright © 2000, 2012 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.


About Meiling | Meiling is a freelance writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder® Coach based in Singapore.

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