Our Executive Dream Team

Our 2012 squad isn't just a collection of all-stars. They're also team players.

The starting lineup
The starting lineup
Business is increasingly a team sport: Consider that the number of positions reporting directly to the CEO at Fortune 500 companies has doubled in the past 20 years, to 9.8 on average, reports Julie Wulf of the Harvard Business School. That top team is now far more heavily weighted toward functional specialists -- marketers, technologists, HR chiefs, designers -- and less toward general managers of business units. In other words: a real team.

For the second year in a row, Fortune's editors pondered the question, What would the ultimate executive suite look like? (We also asked our readers to field their own dream teams in an online contest.) We wanted a team of really excellent performers, the tops in their professions, but we also factored in chemistry and sportsmanship. So while Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was the reader favorite for chief strategist because of his acquisition prowess, Fortune thought he was too much of a lone wolf to sit on our squad.

Our team is meant to be nine knockout players who would form one staggeringly great unit. Fitting all those pieces together is a lot harder than just choosing nine all-stars. But it's a skill that all businesses are going to need.

--Geoff Colvin

@FortuneMagazine - Last updated July 26 2012: 5:38 AM ET
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Your fantasy Dream Team

We invited readers to draft their own roster, and asked management experts and sitting CEOs to weigh in too. Here are the results of our first online fantasy game.