This article reports findings from an interview study with group leaders and principal investigators in Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States. Taking as our starting point current interest in the need to enhance 'responsible research and innovation', we suggest that these debates can be developed through attention to the talk and practices of scientists. Specifically, we chart the ways in which interview talk represented research management and leadership as processes of caring craftwork. Interviewees framed the group as the primary focus of their attention (and responsibilities), and as something to be tended and crafted; further, this process required a set of affective skills deployed flexibly in response to the needs of individuals. Through exploring the presence of notions of care in the talk of principal investigators and group leaders, we discuss the relation between care and craft, reflect on the potential implications of the promotion of a culture of care and suggest how mundane scientific understandings of responsibility might relate to a wider discussion of responsible research and innovation.