Growing the Strengths Explorer Theme of Dependability

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Writer's Note: This is one of a series of 10 articles on the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer themes. For more info on StrengthsExplorer, click here.

“Do what you say you’re going to do, and you will automatically build trust in a relationship.” – Sharon M. Rivkin, Conflict Resolution and Affairs Expert

Students with Dependability in their Top 3 Strengths Explorer results value the trust of others, and they care about being seen as responsible and trustworthy. People count on them to do what they say they will do. When they make a promise, they mean to keep it. Just like the way elephants can carry a great deal of weight and are staunch and steady companions, those with the Dependability talent theme are often described as faithful friends, helpful classmates, and people of great integrity.

Because having the trust of others is important to them, they often enjoy being chosen to be in charge of getting something done, because it means that people believe in them. This does not mean that they will enjoy every single task that they’re given, as there are other factors such as interest and values to be taken into consideration. However, those with the Dependability talent theme do tend to take on more responsibility than others of the same age, and they thrive on being relied upon. This trustworthiness also holds true for their relationships. Those with the Dependability StrengthsExplorer theme are good at protecting the trust of their friends, so their friends often feel safe entrusting them with secrets.

While the Achieving StrengthsExplorer theme feels most satisfied when others tell them, “I’m amazed at how much you got done today!” the Dependability theme feels most satisfied when others tell them, “I’m really glad I can always count on you to get stuff done.” And while the Confidence Strengths Explorer theme feels fulfilled when they can say, “We took new ground today because we dared to step out and try,” the Dependability StrengthsExplorer theme feels fulfilled when they can say, “I stood my ground and did what was right even in the face of obstacles.”

What does the Dependability talent theme look like?

“If I make a promise to someone or make a statement, I have to keep my word. I take all my commitments seriously, so nowadays I’ve learned to think carefully about what I commit to so that I make sure I can fulfill it. It could be something small like buying lunch for my friend, or it could be something bigger like promising to be there for someone during a difficult period. Whatever I promise, I have to fulfill – even if it comes at a great personal cost. If I can’t fulfill my promise for whatever reason, I’ll feel really bad, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make it up to that person.” – M. L.

As a teacher, how do I develop a student with Dependability?

  1. Allow this student to make choices rather than simply assigning him or her additional tasks. Students with Dependability naturally take high psychological ownership of what’s on their plate, but for there to be enjoyment and satisfaction in addition to ownership, they need to have the freedom to choose. Consider what he or she would be excited about owning based on his or her interests and skillsets, then suggest ways he or she could take greater ownership in that area.

  2. Identify and point out ways in which this student takes more responsibility than others the same age. Let this student know that you appreciate the time and dedication he or she takes to fulfill his or her commitments, giving specific feedback on occasions and tasks during which you saw the Dependability theme shine.

  3. Recognize that those with Dependability thrive on the trust of others, and they feel energized when they know how much others count on them. Trust this person with your ideas, thoughts, and feelings, and be aware that others share their ideas, thoughts, and feelings with him or her as well. Point out ways in which you and others can count on him or her.

As a student with Dependability, how do I grow it to maturity?

  1. Identify areas in which you would enjoy having more responsibility, whether in school or in your relationships. How could you help your classmates out more, for instance? Is there a role such as class monitor or project facilitator that you would enjoy taking on? Or what are a few ways you could help your family out at home more?

  2. Before you make a promise, be sure that it is one you want to keep and one you can keep. Having the trust of others is important to you, and you like having the reputation of being responsible and trustworthy. But this means that you may sometimes say “yes” to something even when you are too busy to take that task on. Evaluate your priorities and how packed your schedule is, and learn to say “no” or “maybe at a later date” when necessary.

  3. Stand firm in your beliefs, and speak up for what’s good and right. You almost always know the right thing to do, so if someone is planning to do something that you don’t think is right, don’t go along with it. If a friend wants to do something that might get him or her in trouble, what could you say to change his or her mind? Think through how you would communicate your values even in difficult situations. You might be surprised at the way your example helps others to do the right thing, and they’ll be glad you spoke up.

Concluding Thoughts: Those with the Dependability Strengths Explorer theme are trustworthy and reliable, and they take great ownership of both their tasks and their relationships. When this ownership is honed and their priorities clarified, those with the Dependability talent theme can become strong pillars of their respective communities.

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Written by Tan Meiling


As a Gallup Certified StrengthsF Coach, Meiling is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving Strengths coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.


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