Bill George was interviewed recently on the Motley Fool Money and it made me reflect on my experience with some of Micron’s most senior executives, and the culture that diffuses down into the organization from them. What struck me is Bill George said he looks for “we” leaders, leaders that don’t have all the answers and put significant time and effort into developing people. This is in sharp contrast to what I have seen at Micron, starting with the CEO and his direct staff, especially the leaders who have been with him the longest; the CBO and the VP of Operations. They most closely reflect the CEO’s values, which shapes the culture of the company. What I see at Micron is executives that put themselves first, and those around them, peers, staff, and others, a distant second. They are highly focused on how they are viewed by Sanjay. This might be for their ambition to advance, for more money, or for their own egos from impressing the boss. They are “me” leaders, not we leaders. Rather than trying to develop people, the have a “next man up” mentality. I think this comes from the high level of turnover and job changes in Silicon Valley, which is quite different from Micron’s history in Boise.
This leadership culture and philosophy, which comes from the CEO and will infuse deeper into the organization the longer he is there, is not a formula for long-term business leadership. I have a long position in Micron because of my employment there and as a cyclical investment. I don’t think Micron is a buy-and-hold for the long term company, at least as long as Mehrotra and his long-time followers are leading the company. That leadership team has done a great job elevating the company from being under-managed to where they are today. The next step up, I’m afraid, is beyond their capability.
-S. Hughes (long MU)