Service of Prepping the Boss: Why are Shoes Dropped?

June 6th, 2019

Categories: Boss, I've Got Your Back, Office Politics


Employees have their bosses’ back–or should–and do what they can to make the woman or man look good. When he/she trips up in public it’s often hard to tell whether the advisor poorly prepped the chief or if the boss neglected to pay attention.


The Clintons once received Holy Communion when Bill was President. Their advisors should have told them that Catholics don’t welcome non-Catholics to the Communion rail. They no doubt meant well yet the blunder was so easily avoided.

Speaking of Presidents, the advance team of a Presidential visit to any city foreign or domestic should know what is to happen every minute. This week in London the president failed to recognize the gift he had given to the Queen on his last visit–a pewter horse [photo below, center]. She’s a well known breeder and lover of horses so it was an apt gift. His wife had either read the cliff notes or perhaps she remembered. People magazine’s Adam Carlson, quoting the Royal Collection’s curator Tim Knox, wrote: “We just asked him whether he recognized it and he said no but the first lady did recognize it, which is rather nice.” While insignificant, a boss should never be blindsided like this.

Once my job was to listen carefully to what the boss said at new business meetings. Take the number of employees at the place: I ensured that proposals matched his claims. If a prospect wanted a company with 20 people, that’s the number he’d declare. Next time it could be 30. Almost every proposal was different in this regard.


A friend researched and informed the chairman of the large corporation he worked for with the names of wives and children of those who shared his table at the many events he attended. Remember the scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” where Anne Hathaway, playing Andy, [photo above, left] is similarly advising Meryl Streep, as Miranda, at Runway magazines’ yearly bash?

Have you ever had such a responsibility? Can you recall gaffes at high levels because of insufficient research and/or shoddy boss-prep?


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7 Responses to “Service of Prepping the Boss: Why are Shoes Dropped?”

  1. BC Said:

    Not a problem in the practice of pediatrics. Rarely had to “cover” for a nurse. Example: nurse gave a Non- diabetic a dose of insulin.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    My examples are superficial and nobody would be physically hurt by them–just embarrassed. I wasn’t thinking of the world of medicine. Obviously, stakes are much higher. Some bosses in every industry are either arrogant or insecure but for whatever reason, they won’t listen to the advice of a soul. In some instances such an approach can be downright dangerous impacting far more than their reputations.

  3. Hank Goldman Said:

    The prime example of people at the top not knowing anything, and not being prepped, or should I say attempts at being prepped properly are negated! This resides at the very top of our nation! At least that’s how I and several millions of my fellow citizens see this horrible, horrible situation.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Your comment may explain the example I wrote about in the post. On the one hand I thought that many people have zero idea what their staff or significant others buy as gifts for clients, contacts or relatives so how could anyone expect the US president to remember a gift he’d given a year before without coaching?–preposterous. And why would anyone put another person under the gun like that? On the other hand, the president’s staff may have been warned and he didn’t focus, hear or remember what was said. We’ll never know.

  5. David Reich Said:

    This should work both ways, where bosses should help protect their employees’ backs.

    Long ago, I worked for a PR agency where the boss, whose name was on the door, would routinely throw her people under the bus in order to protect herself. When she tried to pull that on me, I left and started my own firm, which has been in business since 1991.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    So TRUE! People will gladly work like crazy for a boss who supports them or their colleagues. In my first PR job the president of the agency had backed one of his employees whom the biggest client had said didn’t want working on their account. He kept this person on –we all knew it–and lost the division this employee headed to another agency. He wasn’t going to buckle under this pressure from a client. We thought the world of him. I mentioned him in a recent post–he was Bob Schwartz of Manning, Selvage & Lee.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    I can’t recall having not prepped my boss appropriately with respect to necessary background information. I did have to keep my boss aware of developments and press information about Italian fashion, decorative objects and furnishings in general, during the time I worked for the Italian Trade Commission in Boston, but not with pressure for such significant timing..My task was to keep him generally informed.

    It is impossible to think of any example of someone as ill-informed for any occasion or on any subject as the current President of the U.S. It must be attributed to his supreme ignorance of any and all subjects in combination with the inability to choose competent advisors and disdain for anyone else’s knowledge… On a daily basis whether not informed, misinformed or simply ignoring any information or guidance proffered it is certain that both he and his entourage collaborate splendidly in making any and all possible faux pas or offending at every possible opportunity.

    There is also the certainty that the resulting damage from the lack of preparation or concern for appropriate behavior most often results in irreparable damage!

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