Whether you work in finance, retail, or the White House, there are always disagreements. Because not all arguments are between employees of equal rank or standing, it's important to to build a relationship of trust with your boss before explaining why he or she is wrong. Show your boss respect, and any combativeness you may have with him or her will be productive rather than destructive. And it makes for an honest work relationship that is essential for success; it's so easy for bosses to dismiss the misgivings of employees they don't know or rely upon.
Asked what allowed him to survive so long in a job with an average tenure of 23 months, Card responds quickly: "A candid relationship with the president that allowed us to disagree." He quickly adds that though the arguments were sometimes "disagreeable," both parties treated each other with a "high level of mutual respect."
The president of the United States – like a lot of bosses – is used to hearing yes (or "Yes, sir" in his particular case). Sometimes though, he needs to hear no – and that sort of tactful defiance can be hard to manage. Card believes that he maintained a strong relationship with his boss by choosing his battles and keeping the clashes about the bone of contention rather than the contention itself. He wasn't questioning the president, he was trying to help.