Rex Tillerson

What makes a CEO an MVP?

May 31, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

To make Fortune's first Executive Dream Team, a CEO needs global chops, street smarts, and more.

By Geoff Colvin, senior-editor-at-large

Here's the world Jim Skinner faced when he became McDonald's CEO seven years ago: He had just helped turn the struggling company around, but now he was boss because the two previous CEOs had died suddenly. He got profits soaring, only to encounter a historic recession in which Americans said the first expense they were cutting was eating out. With a new strategy, Skinner kept profits up and the stock steady -- and today it's hitting all-time highs.

It's an inspiring story unless you're trying to pick a CEO or any other important manager in today's violently, unpredictably shifting business environment. Did McDonald's (MCD) actually foresee what was coming when it wisely promoted Skinner, or was it just lucky? More generally, how can anyone hope to spot -- or be -- the best executive for today and tomorrow? More

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