Sorry to mislead with the title. I am not talking about teamwork myths here; I am talking about teamwork in reality and in fiction. The nature of teams in the workplace has been studied extensively by business scholars. I can summarize their findings with the key phrase I hear around my office a lot these days: “Diversity drives innovation.” Another phrase I like is: “If two people on a team think exactly the same way, one of them is redundant.”
So why in fiction is the solitary (and non-conformist) hero usually the one who triumphs? I believe that novelists and screenwriters love to celebrate the idea of diversity but often boil it down to a single person going against the grain and coming out on top. Personally, I love stories where the “protagonist” is actually an amalgam of personalities brought together as actual separate people, each contributing uniquely to the successful outcome. Diversity gets things done. I’m sure that’s why I like ensemble cast television shows like Heroes so much. Indeed, teams that triumph in movies like The Fantastic Four and novels like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six are much more appealing than stories about a lone wolf hero.