Those with Responsibility in their top 5 StrengthsFinder results take great psychological ownership for anything they commit to. They are compelled to follow these things 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. You can take someone with Responsibility at their word, and they 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 such strong ownership of their commitments. My wife is such a person. Responsibility is the top talent in her StrengthsFinder results - her innate motivation makes her one who carries out what she promises. To me, she is the one person I know I can fully count on. People with Responsibility tend to be the pillars within the team.
However, there are challenges for many, like myself, who do not have Responsibility in our dominant talent themes. Firstly, in my personal experience and conversations with many, those who have the Responsibility talent often subconsciously view others through Responsibility-tinted lenses, judging those who fail to keep to their word. Similarly, 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.”
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 strength. 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? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Learn to say “No” or “Can I come back to you?”
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 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.
2. Know your values and share them.
A person’s commitments are often tied to his or her values. Two people 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-mindedness. Such a person might work 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. This dialogue 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.
3. Have a paradigm shift in understanding trust.
Those with Responsibility tend to equate trust with tasks being completed. The view that “trust needs to be earned” is a perspective often 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.
4. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIPS
Partner those with Activator
People with Activator are often pioneers in their fields, as they get excited about starting new projects and initiatives and enjoy bringing energy and momentum to whatever they do. In contrast, those with Responsibility enjoy seeing things through to completion, and their high psychological ownership of tasks means that they often bring a great attention to detail to their work. In short, Activators like starting new things and doing things fast, whereas those with Responsibility enjoy following through and doing things right. Such a partnership would empower the individual with Responsibility to broaden his/her perspective on new and exciting projects that can be undertaken, as well as nurture the ability to take calculated risks instead of demanding perfection.
Partner those with Focus
Those with the Focus talent theme possess a single-mindedness and intense determination to reach their desired goals. This allows them to clear out distractions and concentrate on the task at hand, often allowing them to work on something for long stretches at a time. In contrast, those with Responsibility have great psychological ownership of whatever they take on, whether in their tasks at work or in the case of a promise they made to a friend. Such a partnership would help the individual with Responsibility clarify the overarching goals they wish to take ownership of, and align their words, actions, and various areas of their lives accordingly.
Partner those with Significance
Those with the Significance talent theme desire to leave a legacy. They often resonate with the idea that every life is valuable and can make an impact on the people around them. On the other hand, those with the Responsibility talent theme often resonate with the idea that their word is their bond, and they desire to create a reputation marked by integrity, trustworthiness, and excellence. Such a partnership would empower those with Responsibility to envision the kind of legacy they wish to leave, so as to ensure that the endeavors they pursue and the lives they live are in line with this picture.
Concluding Thoughts: Given that trust is the currency of relationships, those with the Responsibility talent theme are valuable members of any team (or family!) because of their ability to create and protect this trust through what they say and do. When wisely aimed and with careful consideration of the impact they want to have on the people around them, those with the Responsibility talent theme embody the idea of being men (or women) of their word.
Written by Victor Seet
Activator • Communication • Strategic • Self-Assurance • Command
As a Gallup certified Strengthsfinder coach, Victor is passionate about strengths engagement and now runs his own training company, Strengths School™ (strengthsschool.com). 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.
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