Most organizations have done a rotten job of harnessing the power of collective effort. That’s often because western society’s strength and weakness is rugged individualism and the ideal of the heroic manager single-handedly plucking victory from the jaws of defeat. This ethic is embedded deep in our cultural myths and stories as told through popular movies or the business press. We love the drama of bold and courageous individual action. Strong and charismatic personalities captivate us because they play such a big part in exploring the unknown, fighting conventional thinking or oppression and injustice, and building new societies and organizations.

Strong teams are unmatched in their effectiveness at managing affairs inside existing paradigms. Rugged, entrepreneurial individuals who refuse to conform to group-think or the status quo do a much better job than teams at leading us to new paradigms. We need both. Only the best organizations can balance this paradox.