Do you feel an emotional obligation to follow through on your commitments, no matter how big or small? Do you pride yourself on being trustworthy, loyal, diligent, & dependable? Have you met someone that you just “know” that if they are given a task they will get it done no matter the obstacles or inconvenience?

That just might be the CliftonStrengths theme of Responsibility.

This week we are going to explore the CliftonStrengths (StrengthsFinder) theme of Responsibility. Whether you’re an individual with Responsibility or a leader wanting to empower your people to perform better, understanding how to turn this talent into a strength will help you be more engaged, more productive and have a better quality of life.

People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership over anything they commit to - depending on their other talents, that could be relationships, tasks, vision, or values. Once they make the commitment, people with Responsibility are emotionally bound to follow through. 


Responsibility is an executing theme but it is also highly relational. Their conscientiousness & dependability builds trust with others and can deepen relationships. Where another executing theme like Achiever is driven to get it done - Responsibility is driven to do the “right thing." Responsibility is about the promise - following through on the commitments made to others (whether those commitments are stated or assumed).


Once they agree, their yes means yes - it might as well be a social contract tattooed on their forehead. Often times people with Responsibility will have creative ways of sounding like they agree with without actually saying yes. Even faking a yes can be tough (if not impossible) for someone with Responsibility.


Someone who has developed their Responsibility talent into a strength can be seen as a loyal friend, someone who is able to respond when needed, someone who hits deadlines and can bring accountability to a team. These individuals epitomize the term "servant's heart" and they get great joy and pleasure from being able to meet and exceed the expectations of others. 

At it’s worst, the raw and untamed individual with Responsibility can take on too much, feeling overburdened and pressured by the expectations of others, then experiencing deep guilt if those expectations are not met as they play the part of the martyr rather than the servant. Because their name is attached to each one of their commitments, these individuals might think they have to own everything themselves. An unhealthy person with Responsibility can be very distrustful or even resentful of others.


  • Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you “should.” - Depending on your other talents, it might be hard for you to say “no” to certain projects or certain people. You have an innate ability to know what commitments you can follow through on, but
  • Don’t worry about what you have to say “no” to, start learning how to say “yes” to the most important things.
  • Ask yourself if what you are doing is bringing you joy and satisfaction to serve or making you feel anxious and guilty? 
  • When you feel guilty about not following through, be honest about the source of the pressure. Is someone else actually upset or is this something you’re bringing on yourself. Either way, apologize restate your commitment and values (either to yourself or the other person) and move on.  
  • Responsibility can be a very serious and focused talent, so find others who can help you lighten up and smile.
  • Pair with others who share your values and work ethic.


As a coach, manager, or coworker you can build up the individuals with Responsibility on your team by taking initiative to ask them for help. Depending on their other talents, it may be difficult for them to volunteer themselves without being asked first - just remember to listen for that definitive “yes” - if you want them on board for a project they have to say it.

If they are resistant to accepting a task, it is probably because there are unknown variables that prevent them from confidently deciding whether or not they can follow through. Ask them what resources or information they need to make an informed decision.

People with Responsibility are usually keeping tabs on projects, values, and deadlines, it can be especially helpful to give them time in meetings to give the team a rundown on previous commitments and agreements to see if those items are still important. Doing this can help provide focus for your team and help your teammates with Responsibility to check off mental commitments if the team has moved on.

As a manager, help them prioritize commitments - let them know that you realize they have their eyes on what the team said they would do, and ask them how the team can support them so they see that you have your eyes on those values as well. Initiating communication will help reduce anxiety for the members of the team with responsibility. Check in with them and acknowledge that you still have eyes on the deadline (especially if you don’t have Responsibility as a dominant theme).

Responsibility is defined by their ability to live up to commitments. A surefire way to reduce their engagement and productivity is to pair them with apathetic teammates who don’t.


Have you ever had that feeling of being stuck in your personal life or at work? You find yourself working with people who don't understand you, doing a job that doesn't fit, and answering to someone who focuses on what you aren't rather than what you are? No matter how many "team building" exercises you do or "self-help" books you read, you still find yourself frustrated and stressed. 


Using a Strengths-based approach backed by Gallup, we help bring out the best in people resulting in higher productivitylower turnover, and a better quality of life. We help people and organizations use what they do well to overcome their biggest problems.

Gallup’s research has also shown people who focus on their strengths turn their potential into action. People who know and use their CliftonStrengths are:

  • 6x as likely to be engaged at work
  • 7.8% more productive in their role
  • 3x as likely to have an excellent quality of life
  • 6x as likely to do what they do best every day



Have you ever seen someone at work and wondered, “How does that person get so much work done?” or, “They just keep working and working, doing more and more, do they ever slow down or get tired?”  Maybe you find yourself making to-do lists and sticking to them, even on the weekends and vacation. That just might be the CliftonStrengths theme of Achiever.