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CliftonStrengths Responsibility Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Responsibility Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Responsibility
  • "Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Responsibility talents and become stronger, resulting in improved performance, organic growth and better wellbeing.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

We discover how the Responsibility talent theme relates to your manager and your team in this Season 6 episode of Theme Thursday. When we improve teams through owning our CliftonStrengths, we improve performance. When we improve performance, that's how we get to the kind of organic growth that allows us to have stronger economies, a stronger world and better wellbeing. And great managers hold the key: As they move from boss to coach, they help team members understand who they are already and hold them accountable for being even better, maximizing the team's engagement and impact. You might even be a manager in ways you never thought of! So join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt for Season 6, as we focus on teams and managers -- including a new talent-mindfulness challenge at the end of each webcast. Strong themes, stronger teams.

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

We've created the ultimate guide to improving teamwork in the workplace!

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 6, recorded on February 20, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time -- this season, based on developing teams and managers with CliftonStrengths -- and today's theme is Responsibility. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in the chat room. There's a link right up there in the -- above the video window that will take you to a YouTube page that has the chat room in it. Log in and join us, start taking your questions. If you have questions after the fact, you can send us an email: Don't forget, subscribe on your favorite podcast app; just search "Gallup Webcasts" or you can subscribe right there on YouTube. You get notified every time we do something new. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Workplace Consultant here at Gallup with me. Maika, always great to see you on Thursdays. Welcome back!

Maika Leibbrandt 0:59

Great to be here! Jim, you know, this season, we're really exploring every theme through the lens of team. And we know, when we're trying to think about themes and teams, one of the places that we tend to go is those leadership domains. If you want to learn more about that or more about the framework that we're following throughout this season, you might want to pick up a copy of Strengths Based Leadership. It's probably -- it's definitely one of the first books that I recommend to people who are brand new to strengths, who really want to get a sense for what is it and what is it not? And the reason I love it is it's actually a pretty quick read. You're getting the philosophy of strengths as it relates to others very quickly. And then over half of the book is a -- just an appendix at the end, where you talk about, How do you lead with or lead others with every single one of the 34 themes?

Maika Leibbrandt 1:45

But what we're doing today is we're really diving into something we found through similar research -- through a lot of research that ended up in Strengths Based Leadership -- to be 5 Truths of Strong Teams. Now the reason I wanted to take us that direction, instead of just getting better at naming those domains over and over again, was because we've talked about this before: Strengths naming -- strengths identification -- is not the same as strengths development. And that is true for individuals as it is for teams.

Maika Leibbrandt 2:13

So what do we develop toward? Well, we've got these 5 truths that we're using as -- not a scientific way to dissect all 34 themes, but really as a way just to get those in our head and think about every theme as more than just a part of a domain, but really the "how" within that domain. For example, we're talking about Responsibility today. So I hope as you listen and as you think about Responsibility, you're not just hearing it's an Executing theme, but you're hearing maybe how is it similar, different if I'm a manager of somebody with a team that has high Responsibility, how do I set those people up for success in relationship to the others that we have here as well?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:51

The nice thing about Responsibility is it's a pretty frequently occurring theme, when you look at people's Top 5. So if you don't have it, chances are you work with somebody who does. So let's get started. The short definition of Responsibility is you take psychological ownership for what you say you will do. You're committed to stable values, such as honesty and loyalty. Now let's dissect that against these 5 truths. The first is about conflict and how great, great strong teams approach conflict. It's really that they approach it as not something that would ever destroy them, because instead, their aim is on results.

Jim Collison 3:30

And so how does someone with Responsibility really focus on those results?

Maika Leibbrandt 3:35

The most important results for somebody with high Responsibility are those they've committed to previously. So there's an external motivation to Responsibility, which is going to be real different than some of those other Executing themes. It's more about fulfilling what you've promised to someone else than it is sort of defining your own focus or direction internally. Think of -- let's just go here for a second -- the difference between some other Executing themes. We've talked about Belief this season. Belief executes on what aligns to their values or to their gut. Achiever tracks their own personal records. Responsibility drives really hard, because someone else is counting on them.

Jim Collison 4:17

And so how does Responsibility track it, then? What are some examples?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:21

So, similar to some other Executing themes as well, there is this innate sense of what has yet to be done. Tracking progress might look like awareness of outstanding commitments that have yet to be completed. They can do it for themselves, but they can also do it really well for the group. Jim, you and I have a great partner named Angela, who does this for both of us anytime that we work together. So if you're their manager, invite them to share out loud what they're sensing -- and it might be a sense that's just a nudge or a bother, or a completely unsilenceable sense that somewhere a ball is being dropped.

Jim Collison 4:58

Yeah, you can ruin somebody's day, too, when you leave up the midshow thing too long. We have a bunch of people with Responsibility here. It's just a great example, like off the cuff here, a great example, though of they, they began to remind me, you know, "Hey, take it down! Take it down!" So it's pretty great to see that in action. What's the second truth?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:18

"Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization, and then move forward." Again, it's about that three-legged stool of strong teams knowing what's right for their team, what's right for their organization, what's right for themselves as individuals and then aiming their energy toward that.

Jim Collison 5:34

So someone with high Responsibility, how can they kind of take it to the larger kind of team goal -- a purpose bigger than their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:41

You know, it's pretty natural that they would extrapolate their own Executing to something that's important to somebody else. There's a loyalty and a service aspect to this theme; a desire to stay focused on what they've said that they would do. And in order to do that, you have to have someone hear it. So you can, I think, help activate this action by exploring with someone who has Responsibility, not just what needs to be done, but who's counting on them to do it. And more explicitly, who they've actually shared that commitment with.

Jim Collison 6:13

So what else? What else would inspire Responsibility to take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 6:17

Not just knowing someone else is counting on them, but knowing that someone or even just a group is aware of that agreement. So I think there's something with Responsibility that's about social and practical contracting. In the practice of coaching, we establish the coaching agreement, where we're talking about, What is it that needs to be done? And how will we know when we do it? In practice, you could ask someone with Responsibility to stay connected with their collaborators about their collaboration. That means updates about progress get made out loud. It means check-ins to see how we're progressing, what we have left to fulfill and deliberate agreement when we shift priorities. Sometimes it's OK to let a commitment go. But that needs to be -- that needs to be agreed upon and it needs to be on purpose.

Jim Collison 7:06

That "out-loudness" actually partners well with my communication on a team of being the one to practice some of those things out loud for folks who have high Responsibility who may not have that ability. And so it's a great partnership in that -- in those kinds of groups, so pretty great. What's No. 3?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:22

"Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 7:27

Yeah. And so how does that Responsibility show up in someone's personal life, you think?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:31

I think, personally, Responsibility can feel a lot like emotional loyalty. And we talked about this regarding Focus, and we talked about it in a slightly different way. But there's something similar here. That internal motivation that the person with this theme has to do can translate to other people as care. For Responsibility, there's something very compassionate about honoring your promises. So to other people it can feel like it's emotional, even if the motivation for them is a little bit more practical. It might look like someone in their personal life who, who might enjoy long-term commitments, like training for a significant physical event or working toward a large financial goal. They'll likely get a boost of energy and excitement when the hobby or activity that they're interested in comes with a structure for checking in on progress.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:27

Now, if they're struggling with balance, which I do hear in -- anecdotally, I hear this quite a bit with Responsibility. Anytime I'm coaching somebody with Responsibility, very often they'll say, "Hey, in the early days of my maturity around this theme," or "Hey, yesterday, I'm -- I have too much to do. And it's -- all of the balls are made of glass. I can't drop any of them!" Because that's the level of commitment that they make.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:51

And I think, I think they probably get there because they're so good at following up on what they said they would do. So of course, they keep getting asked to do more. Help them evaluate what their best focus is. Who their most important stakeholders are might be an important way to get there. And if they want to make a change, it really should always include a promise to someone else. So I think about -- think about it this way: saying, "I'm going to have breakfast with my family once a month," to someone with high Responsibility doesn't mean nearly as much as saying, "I promised my kids that we will have breakfast together once a month." It's that additional piece of making it a commitment that you say out loud to somebody else.

Jim Collison 9:35

Yeah, and I like that word promise in there. And I think that encapsulates this idea very, very well. So with that question -- with these, with that in mind, how -- how might a manager tap into this personal side for Responsibility?

Jim Collison 9:47

You might ask him a couple questions. You could say, "Hey, who in your personal life benefits from your hard work professionally? What commitment are you excited about? What goal are you walk -- working toward? And who was involved? What promise do you hope to be known for?" Isn't that cool? I think it's also important just to ask, "Hey, how is your bandwidth? How can I help you make your execution more effective? How do you decide what to say 'Yes' to?"

Jim Collison 10:16

OK, what about No. 4?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:18

No. 4 can be pretty loaded, and it is loaded. And we're not trying to encompass this all just with purely with CliftonStrengths. No. 4 is "Strong teams embrace diversity." We know that having a team comprised of people who look at issues similarly is never as effective as having a team of people who come at it from different angles. And those angles can come from more than just your CliftonStrengths themes. But we want to, we want to use this one to say, What's unique that their talent brings to the table?

Jim Collison 10:48

We -- how do we -- how do we describe? We have some -- maybe some words we could use. So if we want to boil this down just to a few simple words, what would you say?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:54

I would say, Your person on your team with high Responsibility is purposeful, committed, connected, loyal, a promise keeper, aware of consequences, focused on deliverables, and reliable.

Jim Collison 11:09

I think those are powerful team concepts when we think of our role on a team, how do they fit in? This is why I think it's important the manager knows these, these things about the person and can describe them in a simple way. I find that especially -- especially helpful when things are happening quickly. And I have these words that I've kind of, I've kind of understand people as. So then, in an emergency or when I'm stressed, I can fall back on a simple -- a kind of a simple framework, instead of trying to make complicated, you know, trying to make complicated things about it. So we ...

Maika Leibbrandt 11:45

I think we just described with what the best part of CliftonStrengths is, right? It's, Let's have a shorter, unified understanding of what's great about people. So that in a couple words, we can click into what's right about them and how to, how to help them thrive. So that's, that's why we do this.

Jim Collison 12:01

And the power of it to a manager, to be able to quickly do that. What unique perspective does Responsibility bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:07

So I think it's two things. One, it's the awareness of what, what do we still need to do that we've promised? It's also the ability to listen for potential commitment. So a person with high Responsibility on your theme -- on your theme! -- the theme on your team, not only is I think carrying a lot of weight of, are we doing what we said we would do? What do we need to do next in order to fulfill that? They're also -- especially if they're aware of it, and you're giving them the bandwidth and the almost autonomy to have that voice -- they're also aware of, Hey, are we getting close to saying we're going to do something? Are people expecting us to own this? What level of ownership do we have here? So lean into that; chances are they're already thinking about it. You might as well give them the microphone to share it with the team.

Jim Collison 12:51

Super good. What about No. 5?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:53

No. 5: "Strong teams are magnets for talent." There's a lot of ways to describe this one, but it even goes beyond what we describe in Strengths Based Leadership, where we know that talent attracts talent. So if you're looking to re-create more of your rock stars, get to know why your rock stars are sticking around. Another way to spot strong teams is just to look for the one that everyone's vying to be a part of.

Jim Collison 13:16

Yeah. And what are those things, specifically, that might be attractive?

Maika Leibbrandt 13:20

People with Responsibility get stuff done. They're connected to what's being done, but their promises really keep them present, I think. They can keep the team honest. "Hey, do we have capacity to do what we're talking about doing?" Maybe it's memory; maybe it's their systems; maybe it's just something in their patterns of behavior, but somehow people with Responsibility don't seem to take "Yes" lightly. There's a there's a seriousness that they bring to what they've said that they would do -- even if it, it seemed like a casual agreement, it's like it gets filed in, you know, dripped in, in platinum in their brain and that's, that's kind of, kind of beautiful.

Jim Collison 14:01

And so describe the gift Responsibility brings. Because I think it has an amazing gift, especially in the team concept.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:07

It's an awareness of where we still need to go, in terms of our expectations and how they're going to affect others. We talked about them being aware of consequences. They're true to their word; they'll do what they say they will do. And this, again, can make them feel very emotionally reliable, but also practically pretty stable. There's a predictability to Responsibility. They're not likely to jump to something without having that agreed-upon contract before before they jump.

Jim Collison 14:33

OK, let's review the 5 again.

Maika Leibbrandt 14:35

Yeah. 1) Results, not conflict; 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward; 3) Work and personal lives both matter; 4) Embrace diversity; and when you do all that, you tend to 5) Be a magnet for other talent. So think about how you might evaluate your own team through these truths. What are you currently doing really great? What are you stumbling on? How can you honor the talents of the way that your team is already made up? Honor the talent that's already there in order to perhaps solve any challenges that those 5 bring up?

Jim Collison 15:08

We've got a really great talent-mindfulness exercise coming up. I snuck ahead and looked at it.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:13

Are you confident, or did you peek?

Jim Collison 15:15

No, I peeked. I peeked. Like I do most weeks. So, Maika, as we dive into this, give us a little, a little background of why we're doing this and how people can ...

Maika Leibbrandt 15:22

I do love this one.

Jim Collison 15:23

It's my favorite part.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:26

We started talent-mindfulness in Season 5. So if you are bingeing right now, and you really love this, you can go back and listen to it 34 times on Season 5, or you can follow along with Season 6. And really, it came out of this desire to say, We need to make strengths development something that we practice. So what you're about to hear is the next 3 to 5 minutes. It's about you. It's not about what we've done so far and not about unpacking Responsibility. In fact, sometimes in these talent-mindfulness exercises, you'll hear some hints or some flavor of the theme we're talking about today. I'm not so sure that that exists with this one at all. It's just one that I was excited to take you through. It's, it's meant to be for you.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:06

So if you're driving, keep driving. If you're listening to this somewhere, you can close your eyes; you might want to. Do something right now just to set this apart from the rest of the fabric of your day, whether that's a deep breath or just closing your eyes; maybe pushing back from the desk that you're sitting at.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:24

Strengths-based development, you know, it carries with it a promise that we spend more energy exploring potential than we do pitfalls. The truth is, and this is a lot of the science of of strengths, there is more to learn from moments of success than you probably give it credit. Certainly more to learn than from studying failure. It does not mean, however, if we're being strengths-based, that we just ignore the speed bumps, the missteps, the mistakes. And today, we're going to go there.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:01

I'd like you to think about your experience as a human as you moved throughout this week. How did your strengths show up for you? What were some of the high points when you were at your very best this week? Wouldn't it be great if you could just replay a film or see a game tape of times when you were really great? So do that in your mind.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:28

And what was one moment when you were not really great this week? ... During the past week, when did your natural talent get in your way? When did your patterns of behavior cause a problem for you or cause a problem for somebody else? Maybe it was a specific moment. Maybe you had a whole day that was bad. Let's get something you can narrow in on right now. Let's think about a specific interaction or a specific moment or even just one bad day, but don't think about it in general terms; think about your actual last week. And now let's keep going.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:16

What was that misstep that you, that you took? Who noticed? Who was affected by it? And how were they affected? ... With the benefit of hindsight, what, if anything, would you do differently? ...

Maika Leibbrandt 18:55

Now imagine you have a notebook, an old-school college-ruled spiralbound -- the kind that has that really flimsy, kind of sharp, spiral wire on the side. It's got that faded red line down the vertical inside of each page. I want you to imagine opening that notebook and writing on one page, write down what that mistake was -- that less-than-awesome moment, your poor choice. Imagine just writing it down on one page of that notebook. You don't have to add detail. You don't have to be explicit; just a few words are fine. Just describe what that moment was. ...

Maika Leibbrandt 19:48

And now imagine how it sounds and how it feels when you tug on the edge of that page that you just wrote on in your mind and rip it out of the binding. Some of those little paper "babies" are flying, like those tiny little pieces of paper. Feel that paper in your hand, and crumple it up in your brain into a really messy ball. Now see yourself throwing it away. Toss that ball away from yourself -- maybe it's in a wastebasket, a recycling bin or maybe just across the room away from you. Whatever mistake that was, you did it, you made it and you acknowledged it. Now, let it go! ... Really.

Maika Leibbrandt 20:49

Your vulnerabilities are part of who you are. You are going to make mistakes. It's a beautiful thing about being you, about being human. A beautiful thing about trying. Be aware of what can hold you back from excellence, from greatness. But don't let the fact that you might misstep keep you from dancing. In fact, I can promise you right now, if it makes you feel any better, you will do something wrong. You will find patterns of your natural behavior that are not effective all the time. The good news is, if you think back to that notebook you imagined before, if that's full, it has page after page after page of talent. A few of them are mistakes, but the rest are brilliance. That's your talent-mindfulness for today.

Jim Collison 21:49

It's actually a super good reminder, I think, for us to look back and see those, those moments of brilliance and to call it that. I think sometimes we cut ourselves a little short on those, and they are -- they're brilliance! And so -- I love -- that's the part when I snuck ahead and read. I was, I was most excited about.

Maika Leibbrandt 22:08

About the word "brilliance"?

Jim Collison 22:09

Uh huh. I really like that, I really like that word.

Jim Collison 22:13

If I do, I do want to remind everyone to take advantage of all the resources we have available, new and now in the new -- I don't know why I'm having trouble talking -- now -- I was just thinking about brilliance! -- now in the new Gallup Access. Head over to; easiest way to sign in. Takes you right to the strengths dashboard, by the way, so for your friends, if you're doing this with your friends or your clients, whatever, give them that address. And it'll take them right to their -- right to the Strengths Dashboard, which is pretty cool. While you're there, you can sign up -- if you go to, go to the main page. There's tons of resources we have available for you written -- if you like them that way -- and all our podcasts live there as well. While you're there, sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter. I think that came out today. Also search for "CliftonStrengths" on YouTube. We have a bunch of videos for you -- thousands, nah, it's probably too many -- hundreds, at least, of videos that are out there for you. And if you're a podcast listener on any podcast player, just search "Gallup Webcasts," and we have a bunch for you. Pick the ones you like and subscribe. If you're -- if you have any questions about anything we talked about today, send us an email. We like to get those emails from you, actually: You can see a complete list of all our courses and, by the way, if you come to the CliftonStrengths Summit: -- all one word, -- June 1, 2 and 3, some great times to be in Omaha, Nebraska. We have some courses available for you and they're 15% off if you come to the Summit, so we'd love to see you come out and do that as well. You can see, if you go to the Summit page, you'll see all the courses that are available, including a complete agenda, which -- that's Maika's brilliance, in a lot of ways. She has worked really, really hard to make sure those breakouts are going to be as great as they possibly can be. Get all the information again: If you want to follow us and never miss a live show, head up to our Eventbrite page, go to and follow us there. Love to have you do that. And then you'll get a notification every time I post something new, and I usually only post one new thing a day. So you'll get one email a day from us from that as well -- when I have things to post. And of course, join us in our Facebook groups: Or on LinkedIn, you can search "Clifton Strengths Trained Coaches." You don't have to be a trained coach; I'll let you in. That'll be our secret. And we'd love to have you there as well. Thanks for joining us. If you're in the live show, stay around for a few minutes of postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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