“Step up,” verb phrase, to make an unusually significant effort. Usage note: A vice president will never reveal to an underling when a task assigned to him is low priority. In addition, the VP will almost always employ a false deadline. For example, if the VP has about eight hours of work that needs to be done before presenting information to a managing director on a Wednesday, a particularly obnoxious VP will stick his analyst or associate with the task on Friday afternoon and tell him that he wants a hard copy of the completed job delivered to his house by noon on Sunday, three full days before the meeting.
A worldly associate, like his VP having gone to business school and taken invaluable coursework like Oral Communications and Organizational Behavior, will eventually figure out the whole ruse. So he’ll know not to get stressed out when he hears his VP nemesis tell him: “I really need you to step up on this pitch about mergers within the European sperm bank industry. Have a car service bring me the first draft on Sunday by noon, so I can review it for Monday.” If the associate’s been around the block a few times, he’ll send his VP about half the job on Sunday, then turn his phone off for the rest of the day.