MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marine expeditionary units represent everything the Marine Corps has to offer. Comprised of ground, aviation, logistics and command elements, the MEU can accomplish any mission from humanitarian assistance to major combat operations.
The Marines that comprise the MEU are the first responders to crises around the world. The success of the MEU is largely determined by young Marines dedicated to maintaining a force in readiness. However, this would not be possible without exceptional senior leadership.
Sergeant Guy Higgins, 27, a sniper with the Force Reconnaissance Detachment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has strived to push past the standard ever since he got to boot camp. His hard work showed when he graduated as a lance corporal, and he hasn’t stopped exceeding his own standards since. Higgins’ outstanding leadership was recently recognized when he received that Navy and Marine Corps Association Leadership Award Sept. 26. Higgins strives to be the best he can be while inspiring his Marines to do the same.
In this interview, Higgins describes his leadership style and what it takes to be a good leader.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: Realistically, just to push myself. I wanted to see what I was worth. When I got out of high school I worked odd jobs, but really got bored with everything. I’d do well at the job but then I’d quit. And then finally I realized I needed something more, so I joined.
Q: Have you always been a good leader?
A: I’d say the first time I knew I was a leader was when I got to boot camp. I saw the guide of one of the graduating classes; he was wearing his blues and he had lance corporal chevrons on. Something about that to me; I just knew that I wanted that. So I just put everything I had into [every day]. I left it all onto the table so that way I knew I had nothing to regret. That [mindset] actually brought me to where I am today.
Q: What did you do to improve you leadership?
A: I looked at role models. I picked out who I saw as a good leader and followed them. There are a lot of guys who hit the standard and just stop there. I watch the guys who push beyond it. That’s what kept me going, I would hit a standard but I’d realize that’s not good enough and I’d try to surpass that.
Q: Are there any specific role models that made a difference in your career?
A: Throughout my career there are two inspiring people that really laid it out for me. One was my former platoon sergeant. He said to us, that as a leader, if you’re not tired at the end of the day, then you didn’t do your job. That really hit home when I became a team leader. The second person was my staff sergeant at Sergeant’s Course who said if you take 100 people at one time and you rate their performance at the end of each day, there’s going to be a number one, and there’s going to be a number 100. It’s where do you rate yourself each day, compared to everyone else.
Q: What do you hope your Marines get out of your leadership?
A: I want to set an example. I want to be someone that people want to work for out of respect. Generally, holding myself accountable. If I jack it up I’m going to hold myself accountable and if they can see that they know I’m not putting myself on a pedestal even as a team leader or now as a sniper on the force team. I’ll always hold myself accountable and I’m not going to just delegate tasks. I’m always going to do what I can to help them.
Q: What do you think makes a good leader?
A: Being dependable. Being able to know that when the time comes, the guys can depend on you to take care of business and know that you can [also] depend on them.
Q: Why do you think you were selected to receive the Navy and Marine Corps Association Leadership Award?
A: I’d say it came down to that one out of a 100 ratio. I worked really hard, but I didn’t do it for an award. I didn’t even know about it until this year to be honest. But I always try to do everything above that standard. It showed through my Marines in my former team as a team leader. It shows my peers and even those who are senior to me that if there’s a task and I don’t fully understand it I can still ask why. But I’m still going to go out and do it to my best ability.