skip to main content
The Deliberative Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Deliberative Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Deliberative definition: People exceptionally talented in the Deliberative StrengthsFinder theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate obstacles.

Careful. Vigilant. Cautious. Risk-assessor -- and risk-reducer. Any or all of these descriptions may resonate with you if you have Deliberative among your CliftonStrengths Signature Themes. Deliberative is an anticipatory theme -- Deliberative anticipates obstacles in order to avoid them and find the most efficient way forward.

Individuals with strong Deliberative talents seem to have an uncanny ability to spot everything that could possibly go wrong; and while there is truth to the adage "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing," Deliberative would rather not make those mistakes at all. If we just take our time, we can avoid the majority of mistakes waiting to be made by those who would rush in. The perspective of Deliberative is "if we have to make time to fix it when something goes wrong after we start a project, then we can make time on the front end to ensure it won't break in the first place."

As a result, people high in Deliberative tend to make good decisions that benefit not only themselves, but those around them as well.

Deliberative: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Deliberative in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps and hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Deliberative include:


  • You are naturally cautious, and take your time making decisions. As such, people can count on your sound judgment and your well-thought out reasoning when making a hard decision.
  • You see potential problems and roadblocks that others tend to miss. This makes you a respected resource as a troubleshooter and problem identifier -- helping to avoid messy slow-downs in workflow.
  • In your interactions with others, you prefer to do a lot of listening and withhold judgment until you've heard all the facts. This gives you a trustworthiness and a reputation as an impartial straight-talker.
  • You are a private person, and respect the privacy of others. You handle sensitive topics with discretion and sensitivity, a valuable asset when leading a team.


  • The "paralysis of analysis" could keep you from moving forward in a timely manner. Give yourself deadlines to complete your due diligence, and ensure you have ample time to reflect so that important deadlines are not missed.
  • Your cautious nature and inclination to focus on what could go wrong could give you a reputation of being negative. Point out that your Deliberative talents help you establish the success of the project by avoiding the landmines that could derail it.
  • If you lead a team, your tendency to slow down in order to avoid mistakes may cause your team members to wonder if you've forgotten about their requests. Make sure that you communicate regularly with your team to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Those with strong Deliberative talents often tend to be reserved and not prone to giving praise. Remember that regular praise and recognition fuels great performance, and find ways to genuinely show your appreciation for work well done.

Deliberative: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Deliberative -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must have: 1) self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) knowledge of how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Deliberative talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Deliberative: Those with Deliberative among their Signature Themes make effective decisions because they have thought through all the scenarios and examined the intended and unintended consequences. This cautious, studied approach can actually promote efficiency, because they have considered -- and can therefore avoid -- pitfalls that would derail the more impulsive and less patient.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Deliberative: A rapidly changing environment that requires fast decision making can be stressful for people with high Deliberative. When stressed, they might be inclined to bring things to a standstill, inhibiting and even preventing necessary changes and improvement.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Deliberative by helping them explore instances in the past where this theme has been particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • When was the last time your ability to see the pitfalls helped your team's project succeed?
  • Who are your best partners at work? How do you help them think through their decisions?
  • When do you know you've done your due diligence and it is time to act?
  • How do you define and measure success when you are working on a project?


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either amplify or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those high in Deliberative can get caught in a spiral of inaction -- needing more information to make a decision, they go find it -- and more information yields more possibilities for errors, which requires more information to make a decision, and so on. It is then that a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either amplify or moderate Deliberative:

Deliberative: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • Who are you mentoring -- who can benefit from the wisdom of your careful decision making?
  • How do you know you are achieving the right outcomes -- and is your cautious nature helping or hindering getting to the right outcomes?
  • How do you measure your success? In what areas will being vigilant and identifying risks help you be even more successful?
  • What project at work or in your community is headed for disaster because the unintended consequences were not well thought-out? What do you see that will rectify the situation -- and what will you do about it?
  • When time is of the essence, how can you leverage your Deliberative to quickly assess the situation and move forward -- so that mistakes are avoided and timelines still met?

Continue making good decisions as you exercise your Deliberative and remember these helpful questions to make an even more powerful difference for your clients.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030