StrengthsFinder® Responsibility Theme (CliftonStrengths)

Singapore StrengthsFinder Leadership Application Responsibility

Those with ‘Responsibility’ in their top 5 Strengthsfinder profiling results have an innate motivation to take ownership for anything they commit to and follow it through to completion. It is not surprising if they feel very guilty when they are not able to deliver what they say they will do. It is likely you can take them at their word and they often pride themselves as reliable and dependable. 

A great proportion of this world’s population possesses the Responsibility talent theme. Personally, I am glad to see this statistic. I cannot imagine a world without people who take strong ownership of their commitments. My wife, Michelle, is such a person. Responsibility is the top talent theme in her Strengthsfinder results - her innate motivation makes her one who carries out what she promises. To me, she is one person I know I can fully count on. People with Responsibility tend to be the pillars within a team.

Conversely, there are challenges for many, like myself, who do not have Responsibility as our dominant talent. Firstly, in my personal experience and conversations with many in Singapore, those who have the Responsibility talent often subconsciously view others through Responsibility-tinted lenses, judging those who fail to keep to their word. Similarly, Singaporean managers and leaders who have the Responsibility talent may subconsciously create a non-level playing field in a team and show preference for dependability over other traits such as creativity or charisma. In Strengthsfinder lingo, execution talents like “Responsibility” or “Achiever” can be viewed by these leaders to be more desirable than influencing talents such as “Woo” or “Significance.” In the local Singapore Schools, I found it very interesting that almost all the Head Prefects or Head of Student Council that I personally know, has Responsibility as one of their dominant themes. 

Secondly, as the wife often remarks - apologies are not enough. Excuses and rationalizations are totally unacceptable. Every seemingly valid reason I give her when I fail to complete a task is simply an excuse to her. Many, like myself, tend to struggle in partnering those with Responsibility. This often comes down to high expectations demanded of us. It sometimes takes one honest mistake to be labeled "irresponsible," even if we succeeded the other times - no excuses.    

Many with Responsibility have a love-hate relationship with this particular theme. Because of this unique wiring of strong ownership, they end up taking on more than they should and feel a great sense of burden within their hearts.

How can someone with Responsibility grow this Talent into a Strength? 


Those with the Responsibility talent theme tend to say “yes” to others. They hate to reject and constantly feel that being helpful should be a given. This unique wiring wins them many friends. On the other hand, this very trait also causes them much burden and tension. As a person who innately desires to help others, a practical and wise way to avoid unnecessary stress is to quickly ask for time to consider a request. That definitely beats saying “no,” an answer that those with Responsibility really dislike giving. With some time to make a decision, careful consideration can be given. 

Life is a zero sum game. When something piles up, something else has got to go. Consider carefully what needs to be forsaken in the event you say "yes" to someone. Pay attention to your capacity as well as your own physical and emotional health. Quite commonly, those with Responsibility forsake his or her own time to recharge and rest. Be certain to make your rest a priority. It is not rocket science that the chances of commitments being dropped can increase substantially when one fails to take care of his/her own health. 


A person’s commitments are often tied to his or her values. Two persons with the same Responsibility talent can clash extensively because of differing values. A person with Responsibility who values family will leave work on the dot and possibly rush home to prepare a meal for the family or simply spend time with them. Contrast that with another team member with the Responsibility talent who values career. Such a person might stay long hours, take on more tasks, and is viewed as one who has high ownership over his/her work. With such differing mindsets, a partnership between two such individuals may possibly lead to much conflict. 

Knowing what we value and sharing this with other team members allows for dialogue. These dialogues can create greater understanding between team members, and conflicts can be worked through with greater understanding. When approaching projects or tasks with tight deadlines, it is important for people who naturally take high ownership not to quickly jump to the conclusion that others are ineffective if they are not as on the ball as themselves. Effort must be made to clarify gaps to create trust in the team. 


Those with Responsibility tend to equate trust with tasks being completed. The view that “trust needs to be earned” is often a perspective 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 the manager) shows grace to the individual despite his/her inability to complete a task, they can become more motivated to fulfil 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. 


Partner those with Self-Assurance

People with Self-Assurance get drawn towards taking on challenges, especially those that they feel that others don't seem to dare try. They have a bigger appetite for risks compared to an average person. By contrast, people with Responsibility prefer to do things right rather than doing something that can end up in a mess. The appetite for risk-taking as compared to those with Self-Assurance can be significantly lesser. Such a partnership is invaluable in a setting where pioneering into new grounds is often needed to remain on the cutting edge. Discussions that surround the plans to launch into new grounds become more robust as a result of this partnership.

Partner those with Developer

Developers enjoy seeing people grow and discover their potential. Developers thrive in giving others new opportunities to try different kinds of tasks even if these tasks could be new and challenging. They enjoy encouraging and spurring others on towards personal development and growth. People with Responsibility can sometimes find it hard to let go and delegate duties, particularly if they feel others will mess up. They can end up doing a lot of micro-management to see that the tasks are done right. In doing so, they can end up neglecting the development of people. Such a partnership can push towards the the right balance between people development and completion of tasks within a team.

Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command

As a Gallup Certified Singapore Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ ( He has been actively giving Strengthsfinder leadership and team building workshops to businesses and schools in Singapore as well as Hong Kong, China (Shanghai) and India.