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The Sideline Blog

Just as sports players come to the sideline for rest and guidance, this blog is meant to provide you some insight and guidance as you explore your Strengths journey.

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are 
trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Writer's pictureChad T. Ahern

Strengths Positioning: Deliberative®

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

A soccer player with ball at their feet, waiting to make a play; just as those with Deliberative talents pause to assess risk.
Pausing to draw out and assess risks.

Leaders, and colleagues, need to position people on work project teams effectively and efficiently to ensure work gets done and people stay engaged. A lot of leaders often spend too much time trying to guess where to put people because they don't have a point of reference.

What follows is a "scouting report" for those with Deliberative® talents, as identified via the CliftonStrengths assessment.

If you are a leader or a colleague of someone with talents, consider how you can best position them in the context of your team and your projects. You can also use this as a discussion piece to find out how they see and use their Deliberative® talents.

Each person with Deliberative® talents operates differently. Make sure you're not missing out on their unique contribution.

Disclaimer: The following insights represent the author's opinions based on their understanding of the CliftonStrengths® themes. These are not statements created by or formally endorsed by Gallup®.

Scouting Report

Position: Hold the Line / Defender

This theme is key to drawing out and assessing risks.


Ways in which this team member can make a direct and immediate impact. Use these insights to consider where you place them on the team or in an organization.

  • Pulling back to create space and time. In soccer, backline defenders will often call for the ball to come backwards as to draw the opponent players forward; thus creating new space and opportunities. It also allows the entire team to see how the opposition is going to defend them. The same "play" works in business. These talented individuals will either call for a project to come back to them directly or will be vocal in calling out the coming challenges. Consider positioning these talented individuals in positions where they have permission or authority to cause the team to pause so they can help the team find and assess new approaches, or create time and space to ensure the team addresses all the opposing forces/challenges -- time, money, competitors, internal bottlenecks, etc.

  • Substance over flash. Those with Deliberative talents are action oriented, but not in the same way as people with Activator or Achiever talents. While those with Activator talents provide ignition to ideas and those with Achiever talents focus on how much they can get done, those with Deliberative talents focus on taking thought-filled action. It's less about how much they get done and more about how many risks they avoid in the process. When thinking about positioning these individuals, ensure they are not in roles or teams that require frequent and constant "snap decisions."


Ways in which people with this theme might "overplay" their talents.

  • Freeze Up. When those with Deliberative talents are faced with quick decisions, large amounts of information, and a multitude of risks, there exists a greater chance that they can "freeze up" and not make decisions or take action. As a leader, you can help diminish this possibility by ensuring they have time to consider all the factors.

  • Arms Length. Those with Deliberative talents tend to carry their risk aversion into building relationships. Don't be surprised if they don't reveal too much about themselves. They might come across as "cold" or "not a team player" at first. If you're leading someone like this, give them time and ensure you've done your part to build an environment that provides psychological safety.

Talent Combos / Position Modification

  • Responsibility®: "The Careful Defender" - Those with Responsibility talents are close cousins with their Deliberative-talented colleagues; both share a propensity to carefully steward their team and their tasks. Those with Responsibility-focused talents are keen to do what they promise others. Those with Deliberative talents are keen to manage risk. Individuals with this Responsibility + Deliberative talent combo will serve their team members by addressing risks as they fulfill their promises. Think about positioning these individuals as the ultimate "backstop" to critical projects. They will ensure everything is done and every concern addressed. Just make sure you give them enough time to do both.

  • Woo®: "The Risk Aware Captain" - Individuals with Woo talents are keen to build a broad coalition of teammates. Those with Deliberative talents are keenly aware of risks. The rare person who possesses this unique talent combo is likely to build their coalition by convincing people they have assessed the risks and that together they can overcome them. Position these individuals where they have broad access to information, wide latitude to build relationships, and time to assess both.

Game Film

Check out these videos from Gallup to learn more

Photo by Lucas Andrade from Pexels

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