Bossing Up

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Bossing up isn’t about controlling what’s outside of you. It’s about respecting and sharing what is core and in integrity with who you are and the impact you want to make.

Singing is sacred. And you shouldn’t do it just because someone wants you to. What’s most important is that you are treated with dignity and respect. This starts with you giving it to yourself.
-Audra McDonald as Barbara Siggers Franklin in the film Respect – The Story of Aretha Franklin – 2021

Anything that comes from our hearts and instinctive centers and calls us to be who we are and do what we are meant to do IS sacred. In truth, no one gets to tell us how or if we should do it. Only we can determine this for ourselves.


My client paused before answering my question, “So, what did you notice?”

“There were some unhappy faces and even pushback from a few of my employees,” she replied. “I just worry that I might be coming across as bossy.”

I sat for a moment taking in all that she had shared about “cleaning house” and making some very large and necessary executive decisions and changes in her company.

Finally, I responded. “There’s a big difference between being bossy and bossing up,” I said simply.


I absolutely love what my friend, J. Dwayne Garnett, recently shared on social media. For me, it describes so much of what happens when we boss up and choose to honor our authentic who, how and why.

“When you’re offering something that has never been offered before or doing something that has never been done, be prepared to set clear boundaries, dismantle assumptive constructs and get comfortable possibly being isolated and misunderstood. Sometimes, your impact will be the only clear indicator of who you are, so hold tight to your purpose. Be unapologetically you. You may shake some leaves, but maintain your roots.”

Last month, I wrote about moving beyond your story and understanding and owning who you are and surpassing what others have told you, what you have experienced and the roles you play. To fully embody this place of truth that is so much bigger and brighter than your story, it is necessary to boss up.

In an article written by Dana Mrkich, she shares her thoughts about what this means.

“It’s about being self-led and practicing self-ownership. Accepting the right to be the author of your life. Recognizing your innate inner authority and taking responsibility for yourself, your thoughts, beliefs, words, needs and actions. It’s letting go of needing someone else to tell you what to be, think or believe, and ceasing to seek the permission or acceptance from others to know your own choices are okay. It’s about releasing the need to control that which is outside of you. Letting go of telling others what they should do, be, think or believe and not trying to control circumstances that you simply cannot.”

So, where in your life are you wanting to boss up? If you are currently taking the steps, what do you need to address, clarify, honor, release and ask for to support your efforts?

In the coming month, we all will have opportunities to embrace feelings of inspiration, energy and a need to be productive or simply live out loud. What we can keep in mind is change happens incrementally, and we will want to attend to and integrate others’ needs, habitual systems and approaches and the ebbs and flows of cycles in order to move ourselves and our new ways forward. There may be internal and external tensions that require patience, expert care and navigation. Getting clear about and communicating what is most important and in alignment with each of us will be crucial.

Again, bossing up isn’t about controlling what’s outside of you. It’s about respecting and sharing what is core and in integrity with who you are and the impact you want to make. It’s about building the networks, systems and approaches that will allow the best and brightest parts of you to shine through for your own benefit and betterment and for that of the world.