Who’s the Boss?

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By Susan McNeal Velasquez
By Susan McNeal Velasquez

When I was a teenager, one of my first boyfriends used to say, “Who’s the boss?” whenever I voiced a different opinion than he did.

My older brother would say, “You’ve always been a woman’s libber!” in response to any disagreement with him.

When I held an executive position in a fast-moving company that required a lot of brain-storming, my boss, in a moment of frustration, stood in front of me and said, “I can’t get you under me, you’re certainly not over me, but you just hover. You look me in the eye and hover and you scare me.”

That bit of information was extremely valuable because it let me know that he was operating from a reality of ‘better than, less than’ and I was responding to him from the point of view that we were equals who were sometimes on the same page in our ideas and sometimes our ideas were very different.

The facts are that most corporations only define positions in terms of roles and responsibilities. I continue to be more interested in the relationship between authority and responsibility.

Early in my career, I determined that it didn’t work for me to have responsibility for outcomes without having the authority to impact the means to getting those outcomes. Therefore, when I had competent and highly responsible employees, I set out to give them the authority over the areas that were their responsibility.

So many times turning over authority was met with surprising resistance.

They had no problem doing their jobs competently and responsibly. The sticking point was in having them accept and use the authority given them. They continued to be highly contributing employees. However, when I expanded their authority to impact the way they achieved their results, they would find excuses to avoid exercising the muscle of personal power even though they had all of the skills and knowledge to do an excellent job.

When we take this subject and apply it to our own individual lives, it poses some interesting questions.

Is it time for us to take full responsibility for the quality of our lives? Do we accept ownership, authorship, and therefore, the authority to determine how we meet our needs, what we value, what we feel and how we think? Do we own all of our behaviors as our responsibility?

I propose that if we still hold on to the idea that being responsible is defined in the negative as the one to blame, it follows that we will be hesitant in owning our personal authority because no one wants to be blamed and therefore, open for punishment.

Here is the paradox we face. When it comes to the activation of authority as opposed to restricted role and responsibility leadership definitions, we must take ownership of our personal power as well as our position power.

This authority can only be utilized when we give up lusting after perfection and being seen as always right and get down to the business of genuinely and authentically managing our lives.

The answer to “Who’s the boss?” is that when it comes to your life, the definitive answer is you. If you think you are ill-equipped to take on both the responsibility and the authority for your life, then the challenge that you are facing is how can you grow into the ability to not only survive, but to master the skills necessary to thrive.


Susan is the author of the book: Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. Reach her at: susanvelasquez.com

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