skip to main content
Responsibility: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Responsibility: Highlights From Your CliftonStrengths 34

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 5, Responsibility
  • The CliftonStrengths themes at the top of your profile are the most powerful and give you the greatest chance for success. Join us as we discuss Responsibility.

Join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt as they talk about your Responsibility talent theme -- helping you unlock the power of truly understanding yourself through how you get things done, influence others, connect with people and think critically -- on this Theme Thursday Season 5 webcast.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha, Nebraska, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 5, recorded on October 24, 2019. Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time, and today's theme is Responsibility. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in the chat room; link is available right above the video window if you're on our live page. If not -- if you're listening to the recorded version, you can send us your questions: Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a workplace consultant here with me at Gallup, and Maika, always great to see you on Thursday. Welcome back to Theme Thursday.

Maika Leibbrandt 0:45

Thanks, Jim. Always great to be here with you. Today we get to talk about the theme of Responsibility. And if that is one that always describes you, you'll notice that this this podcast is something definitely for you. But our entire move within CliftonStrengths isn't just to think about what is the goal and how do I get there? But it's to really understand your unique makeup of talent. So those talent themes that always describe you are what we call your dominant themes. They're typically 1 through 5, maybe 1 through 10 in your CliftonStrengths 34. Again, if you find Responsibility laying there for you, you're going to get a lot out of this. But I think you'll also get quite a bit out of this if you also maybe care about or work with somebody who has a lot of Responsibility talent.

Jim Collison 1:27

Maika, what does it mean to have Responsibility as my top talent theme, then?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:30

Means that if you say you will do something, you do it. If you've got high Responsibility, you take real and absolute ownership of your commitments. You honor honesty and loyalty.

Jim Collison 1:42

You -- so you, we might see this come out in people's lives and they're doing it. How might we notice this if somebody has dominant Responsibility?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:50

The idea of truly owning something that might excite you; really being able to rely on yourself is energizing. You may sort your favorite working partners based on previous performance and experience, again about that executing piece of what do they do? Those who follow up on their actions and their deliverables might float to the top of your "most desired collaborator" list, whether you actually tell them or not. Other people probably look to you for guidance in the middle of a project, sort of like turning to the Table of Contents to see how far we've come in a book, or looking at the ETA on a GPS to say how much farther do we have yet to go? You can be a progress check for people.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:29

You can probably recall promises that you have broken in your life, and there's likely very, very few of them. You carry the weight of commitment. You don't take your work lightly; you take it very seriously because you know that you will be involved beyond that initial agreement. For somebody with Responsibility to say, "Yeah, I've got this." That's a very serious statement. You might experience a shared social bond with people that you've completed tasks alongside. Other people probably see that commitment to execution as loyalty to the people involved. And that can build a pretty meaningful connection. If you're going to not complete something, you probably need obvious confirmation and clarity of what the new direction is. You don't just drop something and then move on very easily.

Jim Collison 3:18

With the emphasis on the all -- the all 34 report, brand new report we produced end of last year, we've been in there, there's a section on blind spots. And so we've been kind of this season kind of going through the definitions and then highlighting those, Maika. Let's talk about how might people with high Responsibility -- what might -- what kind of blind spots might they have?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:36

Yeah, remember, these blind spots aren't a scientific diagnosis. They're not a guarantee that you'll even experience this, but it is something that we need to understand. Perhaps how can that theme be perceived by others? Or another way to describe a blind spot is, How could you get in the way of your Responsibility? One of them is that you are loyal. You You do what you say you will do, so it's likely that you get asked to do more than you have the capacity to complete. Overcommitment is difficult with Responsibility because Responsibility is an external motivator. It's about the promise that you made to someone else. And this blind spot probably hurts you more than it hurts other people. You'll you'll take from your own reserves in order to fulfill the needs of others. I often coach a lot of people with high Responsibility who just describe burning the candle at both ends or again taking from their own reserves.

Maika Leibbrandt 4:31

If you can't sustainably do that, which nobody can, you're not ever going to be able to fulfill the commitments that are so important for you to fulfill. So at some point, that's not grace; that's just sacrifice. So there comes a time when what it costs you to take on another commitment and what it's going to benefit someone else is just no longer in balance. So this one you have to first remedy on your own. Be bold enough to spend some time, maybe even with a coach or a trusted friend, figuring out what your best "Yes" really is. Don't just say my action to avoid this blind spot is going to be to say "No." Say "No" to the wrong kind of work. That's that's very different than just saying more of a "No."

Maika Leibbrandt 5:17

So I was reminded this week of Jim Collins' work in Good to Great: If you have more than 3 priorities, you have no priorities. Being able to really (home) in (on) what is your best Yes is going to benefit others too, because you can not only be the guardian of your own best Yes, but of your team's. Maturity on this theme can look like standing up for the priorities that your team has already committed to and defending those against distraction.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:41

You have a long lens, as we mentioned before, of between agreement to follow through of what needs to be done. You've got that sort of, again, Executing talent understanding, and that includes sort of being able to see what it is that we've already had that is an outstanding commitment. So that first blind spot was a bit of a long sort of coaching opportunity there. But I think it's an important one. It's one that I find people with Responsibility tend to struggle with and and really benefit from when they do some good untangling work there.

Maika Leibbrandt 6:15

The other blind spot, and this one comes from our 34 report: Responsibility is an Executing theme; it is not a Relationship Building one. Too many commitments can get in the way of your relationships. So don't let your to-do's take over your to-be's or your to-be-with's.

Jim Collison 6:33

Wow, that's a great quote. Somebody -- somebody should write that down and post it on Instagram! What role does Responsibility play on a team? I think this one's really, really important. I think we're going to spend a little more time next year focusing on teams, but where in this one with Responsibility does it fit?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:49

So these you've already heard this, but Responsibility is an Executing theme. Executing themes describe people who lead kind of with their eye on the goal. How close or how far are we from accomplishing that goal? In a team, Responsibility can be that accountability partner or even the accountability manager. They have an eye for what has yet to be completed and who is counting on the team to complete that that promise.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:16

People with high Responsibility can provide clarity on what the executable steps of a promise really are. For example, rather than saying, "Our goal is to be more open with one another," someone with Responsibility could help the team see they need to share more meaningful discoveries, celebrate personal milestones and look for noticeable evidence that these actions are happening. Now don't confuse that with Achiever because Achiever in some ways can also do that; Responsibility, in many ways, is kind of like inside-out Achiever. It's that awareness of progress toward commitment that you've made to someone else.

Maika Leibbrandt 7:52

So in many ways, you know, if Responsibility is given the stage and the permission and the time to be heard around this, they can be the human version of taking a goal and making it smart -- so making it more specific, more measurable. On a team, Responsibility can be a great equalizer. The task or the commitment is what is their favorite, not the person. So they can see work beyond the lens of hierarchy, beyond the lens of bias. Give them support to translate from this nagging feeling that something isn't being completed into this sense of shared discovery. You can do that by just giving them the floor and asking for Hey, what do we have that are some outstanding deliverables and who is counting on us to deliver these? Also, ask somebody with high Responsibility to give you a hand in celebrating what we've completed.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:46

To compare Responsibility to other Executing themes. First up is Restorative. Restorative is an awareness of what's broken, energy and patience toward fixing it. Responsibility is an awareness of what's promised, energy and excitement toward fulfilling it. That was a good moment. I hope you heard that one. I also want to look at Achiever and Responsibility. I mentioned these two earlier. Achiever starts every day at zero, and it has that internal drive to complete. Responsibility starts every day at outstanding promises, and is driven by that agreement with other people.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:26

Arranger says, I can sort a lot of variables at once, holding the most efficient configuration in my head; Responsibility says, I can understand multiple commitments all at once, and I can balance the needs of multiple constituencies. In partnership, Responsibility can make you feel important through their commitment, through their loyalty and through those sort of execution-ized or executed, activated values of honesty and loyalty. They can keep track of what needs to be done and keep track of our ability to do it. They can be a referee. Somebody with high Responsibility in a partnership can help you sort to what you should be taking on, and maybe what's better left for somebody else to do.

Jim Collison 10:11

I said this a little bit in our preshow, as we were talking. I really do envy Responsibility, and I actually gravitate towards it on teams. Maika, as you were talking about all these things, there's a lot of great reasons for me when I have when I find somebody with Responsibility on a team that I want to gravitate towards them. It's in the middle for me. And so maybe that's one of those areas where I like to, I just like to move towards it. As we think about -- and maybe part of the clues are found in this -- as we think about how Responsibility communicates, how does it communicate well?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:41

So if you want to communicate super well with Responsibility, be clear when you're asking for their involvement. Talk about who's being expected to carry out the task that you're discussing, even if it's not them; help them understand complexity by sorting out who is making which commitments. They make sense of chaos quickly by knowing who the promisers are. Offer check-ins that are about progress toward something, not just that sort of social expectation for a check-in or a quick-connect conversation. Ask them what has been completed and what's worth celebrating. That not only acknowledges the sort of task list that they probably have; it also helps them sort of slow down and realize it's it's OK to look at what we've done, because it's going to help us reorient ourselves to where we're going next. And when priorities change, or maybe even when priorities are just no longer priorities, make that explicit with them and talk about why.

Jim Collison 11:41

We often think about this idea of how do we inspire or motivate them, so as we think of people with Responsibility, how do we spend some time motivating them?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:50

Clarity of roles and responsibilities. This can be an ever-evolving thing. I know you probably hear me say this a lot, especially in answer to this question this season, you know, be really clear. But clarity is kind and it matters, and roles and responsibilities are always changing. So it presents a challenge in a lot of workplaces and a lot of partnerships. Don't just assume that clarity is there until it's been said out loud. Give them space to sort toward clarity and even build the habits of asking questions that support that kind of clarity -- things like, What does support look like? or What does "done" look like? Or how are we going to know if we're where if we have completed this together, what are we going to notice?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:29

Also some obvious positive, out-loud tracking of what's being done. Maybe it's a shared calendar; maybe it's even some version of a grown-up sticker chart! But that ability to say, this is the ticker in my brain, and now I can translate that so that other people can see it as well. The chance to have influence over how something is running -- think about not just having them be a project manager but really having them be a project manager with some authority or some some permission. I would also say the opportunity to select their own team of partners, or to have some say in who does what on a team. Environments where progress is discussed free from blame or emotion -- being able to say, What have we done? And what are we learning?

Jim Collison 13:17

One of my favorite things to do when I'm executing for those that have Responsibility is to check back in with them and then let them know how important their accountability back to me is in the process. I think it's just one of those pieces they thrive on that and understanding that, hey, what I'm doing -- the burden I am carrying is making a difference, right? That I think that's kind of the emotional around that. What -- what else -- people how would people with high Responsibility, how else could they practice this talent every day?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:45

Priorities are actions that lead you to living values. So I think it would be important for somebody with high Responsibility to name 1 or 2 priorities that you have this week. And then see your work through the lens of those priorities. And notice how some tasks maybe become more or less important than others. If you want to think about this even artistically, if you were to put on glasses that were your priorities this week, and those glasses magically turned a couple of your tasks more bold and a couple of them smaller in the font. So even just that one exercise of saying, What is it that needs to be done? And what is it that is going to help me get to a larger promise?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:31

Other ways that you can practice Responsibility talent every day: Practice telling somebody what your most important commitments are. Give yourself some time to execute. Understand that one of the dangers of high Responsibility is you're always going to be asked to do more. And so if you find that you are spinning your wheels taking on more promises without enough time to actually move them forward, you're probably going to feel a little bit out of alignment. Offer your talent to someone else on purpose. Take on a task that puts you in charge of how things are executed. And also think about varying your timeline. Get to know whether you are best with short deadlines or with longer ones. Challenge yourself by taking on something that offers variety in your execution expectation along the lines of a timeline.

Jim Collison 15:18

Maika, we've been spending this season talking about this idea of talent-mindfulness -- been become very, very popular. In fact, the book will be available on Amazon -- just kidding. You never know, though, actually. So as we think as we think about this idea of practice and doing this, what do you have for us today?

Maika Leibbrandt 15:36

This one's a little bit longer. As I was writing this one this morning, I thought, I'm going to miss these next season. Talent-mindfulness, if you've never done this before, is a practice. And just like anything that you practice, you do it with an intention to improve. The next 3 to 5 minutes are meant to help you take a break from performance and a break from expectations. Just be more intentional with yourself so that when you come back into a world that needs things from you, you really have done that practice and you're ready to show up better.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:06

So I invite you to do this as you're thinking -- not writing anything down. I hear from a lot of you saying you do this in the car. Maybe you come back later and you replay this with a pen and paper or a blank Word document on your computer. But for now, just accept the challenge to spend some time in your own head. Let's start by exhaling. Let go of all expectation. For the next few minutes, you're free to explore without judgment. Take a deep breath in through your nose; fill yourself with fresh air. Exhale again, really getting rid of any of that air that's already been used; let go of anything that you're carrying.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:51

As you continue to breathe normally, I want you to think back on a few successes that you've had this year. What would you consider to be a personal or a professional win that you've had? Just to help you really get success in your mind, I'll ask you a couple more questions. What have you accomplished this year that made you proud? ... What would someone who loves you say you've done well this year? You don't have to narrow to your greatest or your flashiest success, but do think about more than one -- ideally, 2 or 3 successes. They can be small. They can be personal. They can be ones that other people know about or that nobody knows about. Get 2 or 3 of them.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:54

Now let's, let's get a little bit more clear -- really help you think about these 2 or 3 successes. Imagine you have 2 or 3 different rocks, about the size of a soccer ball or a football -- I could just say football, be the same size no matter what country you're in. Each one of those rocks represents one of your successes this year. In your mind's eye, take a big black marker and write the name of one success on each rock. Now set those rocks down. I'd like you to see these successes as something worth celebrating in their individual right. Each individual rock deserves some acknowledgment. So breathe in some personal acknowledgment. Breathe in some celebration. You did this!

Maika Leibbrandt 19:03

Exhale, this is good. Now look at your cluster of rocks. 2 or 3 of them. This time, see them as something connected to each other. What, what is one common theme that all of these successes share? How do your successes this year describe a value that you have? What core belief do you have that shows up when you look across these different successes? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 20:03

Looking at these 2 to 3 big rocks, what do you notice about your priorities? Whether you lead with Responsibility or any of 33 other CliftonStrengths themes, your values show up in what you choose to say "Yes" to -- the promises that you make to others; the commitments you follow through to completion. Aligning your priorities to your core values helps you make the most of that precious time you have; helps you truly make the most of the brilliant talent that you can offer.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:45

So, one more time, while it's still fresh in your mind, here's how we're going to summarize. When you consider your successes, what value or core belief shows up for you? Some people think about these as community, love, honesty, family, communicating, service, profit, honesty, humility. I'm not going to prescribe it for you. What comes to mind for you in terms of a word or a phrase that you can use to describe the value that shows up across your successes?

Maika Leibbrandt 21:33

Your rocks are heavy, and sometimes weight is a good thing. If you were to put all the weight of those rocks into one priority, you'd be able to make a significant change in some direction. What do you need to do today to shift some of your effort back onto your most important priorities? That is your talent-mindfulness for today!

Jim Collison 22:13

Maika, you know I go through these exercises with you while you're doing it. We don't show on the video but and, you know, the rock I visualized was 3rd Quarter podcast download results for what we do here, right, and 3rd quarter of this year, 2019, set set a new record for number of downloads. Trending -- we had been trending about half a million a year; and we now are trending at three-quarters of a million a year through 3rd quarter, and pretty exciting. Not that the number itself means a lot but that it's you listening that each and every day we hear from, we get emails from, we we -- you guys make comments back to us. Maika and I almost get a daily, no, weekly email probably from somebody thanking (us) for the work that we do here, so Maika, congratulations.

Jim Collison 23:03

That's the big rock I kind of give to you, as well, we share in a lot of what we do, as well as other hosts, Dean Jones and Mike McDonald and everybody that we have, when we think of, you know, Pooja and Anne, and Anna, doing all these with us, but what a great visualization of a way to say and I'm spending some time, you and I have spent a significant amount of time this week thinking about that heavy rock, and what that will look like in in 2020. So great exercise. I say all that to say -- not to brag -- but we are pretty proud of what we do. But to say that's that's the representation of what you're doing through these talent-mindfulness. And it's just a great example to me of that -- bringing it back, am I setting my priorities, my work priorities, forward on those things with all the things that can be done? So I hope you're doing that as well.

Maika Leibbrandt 23:52

I hope what it does is it helps people understand that strengths isn't just the assessment. You have to practice this every single day and, for those of you who have made some of those download and those listen numbers happen, know that you you've done the practice! You're ready for the courage it's going to take you to do hard things today. So thanks for showing up!

Jim Collison 24:12

Yeah, you bet. Well with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available now on Gallup Access, you can just go to Clif -- you can just go to; still trying to figure that out. Send us your questions or comments. You can do that in an email: You can also catch the recorded audio and video of this program as well as all the past ones available on our YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube and search CliftonStrengths; you can, from any podcast player both on Android and iPhone, just search Gallup Webcast. If you're interested in becoming a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, you can see a list of all of our courses that lead to that: is that site -- a complete list, up to date around the world as well. If you want to sign up for future webcasts, go to -- no, go to, and you can follow us there. Don't forget to join us in our Facebook group as well: Love having you out. Stay around. If you're listening to live, well, stay around for some mid-show. We have another one of these coming up. If you're listening to the recorded version, just hang on -- there's probably another one waiting for you. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody!

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

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