Unsurprisingly, the West Wing is full of type A personalities. Everyone has an agenda, everyone craves influence, and everyone is grappling their way up the totem pole. Sound familiar? In a nutshell, the White House is a normal office building turned up to 11.
"You have to manage extremely challenging personalities, because most of the people around the president are quite confident in their abilities," Card says. "You have to make sure that none of them bully the president into a decision."
In Card's opinion, this is among the most important duties of any good employee: help facilitate better decisions by presenting options rather than solutions. Though you may not like your boss's choices or their outcome, you have to respect that the buck stops with them. "The president's decisions are always tough. They're brutally difficult decisions to make," says Card. "That's why the president's decisions are the president's decisions. They're not an adviser's decisions. They're not the staff's decisions."
As the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown. The upside of being farther down the ladder is that the consequences of a catastrophe will be brunted by your boss – a perk that often gets forgotten amid the static of ambition.