Community & Government

Assembling Teams

Bill Clinton

Lesson time 08:16 min

President Clinton shares tips for identifying the best people for the job and teaches you how to harness the power of diverse individuals and opinions.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Diverse Teams Are Winning Teams · Assess Your Own Strengths and Weaknesses · Look Beyond the Résumé · Take Time to Clarify the Mission


[MUSIC PLAYING] - When setting up a team, one of the most important rules to me is getting a diverse group of people committed to a common goal. It's valuable to have a diverse set of opinions if you have a diverse set of challenges. And if they are challenges without a known 100% reliable answer, then we know that diverse groups make better decisions. And the reason we know it is, there are mountains of research. This has been a subject, how do you build teams and how do they perform? It has been studied ad infinitum, and there are literally mountains of research that show that diverse teams make better decisions than homogeneous teams or lone geniuses. If you go tomorrow to a meeting with 100 people, and you could pick the smartest person in the room and take that person to a little suite, and give the person anything they might want for two or three days, and feed them like a king or queen, and all of that and lay the other poor 99 people there drinking cold coffee and eating stale rolls, and give them the same set of problems, over time, the 99 will do better than the one, even if the one is the smartest. Once you're committed to the same goal, then diversity becomes a priceless asset, because it's a way of inventorying the widest variety of experiences, the widest varieties of perceptions, the widest varieties of preferences. And if you're putting all that together in pursuit of the same goal, it's an unstoppable force. And the team will be happier, because everybody wants to play on a winning team. And you win by getting the best people together and encouraging them to think and work with other people and see things ever so slightly differently. [MUSIC PLAYING] When assembling a team, I think a leader has to have a sense of his own strengths and weaknesses, or her own strengths and weaknesses, because that'll tell you who else you need. I mean, I always wanted people on my team or teams who knew more than I did about the subjects at hand. We never would have succeeded in sequencing the human genome if we'd had to depend on my knowledge of biology. That's elemental. But the same thing is true in a lot of the national security decisions I had to make, all in good faith. Nobody was a slacker. They saw it differently. That's what you want diverse teams for. [MUSIC PLAYING] Whether you're looking for someone who has lots of experience in the area, or a particular intellectual or emotional skill, we have to realize that there's not always a cookie-cutter way to pick somebody, a formulaic way. Sometimes people with less formal education have more street smarts, which makes them better qualified for some jobs. Sometimes people with academic education seem to lack the street smarts, and then surprise you with an amazing amount of toughness. Sometimes people can find the right way to solve a problem, but come across as so self-assured, to put it mildly, that other people think that they're being treated like...

About the Instructor

Commander in chief from 1993 to 2001, Bill Clinton has spent a lifetime navigating complex challenges and bridging deep divides. Now the 42nd president of the United States teaches you how to be an effective, empathetic leader. Learn how to assemble, inspire, and empower diverse teams, mediate conflict, manage criticism—and create a personal framework to guide you and your team toward a shared vision.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Bill Clinton

Drawing from his career in politics, President Bill Clinton teaches you how to inspire diverse teams, manage criticism, and mediate conflict.

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