Responsibility: Gift or Curse ?

I take responsibility for everything.  I have been told by people I work for that this is a great strength.

The reality is, if you are like me, you know that a strong sense of responsibility can be the gift that keeps on giving. It never stops or shuts off. You know who you are: you are the list maker that adds items to the list that are already done just so they can be crossed off. Yes, that is the curse of us responsibility types. The reality is that a strong sense of responsibility can be overwhelming for women when you are integrating responsibilities and have full-time jobs and hobbies and interests and friends and family and . . . well, the list goes on.

So how do we leverage this “strength?” I have learned over the years to focus in on what I am really responsible for and get clear at work and at home with who else could be responsible. What? Delegate? Really? Yes. There are other owners in the world happy to take on items on the list who actually believe they are responsible too! Who knew?

Here are five things that help me:

1. I prioritize the top five things every day that are impactful and do those first before I do anything else, including checking e-mail. Read Never Check E-Mail In The Morning for time management tips.

2. I set clear expectations at work, make sure others are clear with these expectations, and have a process to check progress.

3. I chase the boss to ensure priorities are on target.

4. I leave room for boss imposed time, client imposed time, and family imposed time

5. I leave time for me

I still am responsible and, with the above steps, I have more control to leverage my strength and create room for the gift.

What do you do to turn your strength into a gift?

About the Author

Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.


Debbie Brown

Agree with all your comments! and thank you!- list making, and delegating a great way to balance this out! Jennifer- at first I thought this was such a good thing- at second glance I see it is an opportunity to allow others to grow and that is growth in and of itself!- so true

Jennifer V. Miller


I can SO relate to the “curse” of responsibility. As the oldest child in my family “responsibility” started early for me. Speaking of Strengths Finder, many years ago, when I first took the Strengths Finder survey, Responsibility came back as one of my top 5 strengths. I remember thinking, NOooo, I don’t WANT to be responsible. Of course, I soon realized that it’s “who” I am and like you, I have learned to be responsible only for me and to not take on everybody else’s “stuff”.

Nidhi Garg

I am too much into the habit of making lists about everything that has to be done, and as you have rightly mentioned, it gives me an immense rense of fulfilling my responsibilities on striking items off that list.
Thanks for the advice on prioritization. Hope it helps me as well.

RMSmithJr.SPHR - Bob

I am a Strength Finders 2.0 advocate. Consequently, one of my lists posted next to my monitor is my top five strengths. As I approach each task, I ponder which strength is best suited for responsible success.

My daily starting list is seven action items long. By the end of the day, there is a companion list of what I got done anyways.

Good post.


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