Home Commentary Commissioner Gill gifts leadership lessons to Pensacola

Commissioner Gill gifts leadership lessons to Pensacola

Community Voice, Rachael Gillette, is the President of Studer Community Institute.

With the beautiful backdrop of Pensacola Bay, Pensacola Sports honored the brightest and best of the area’s athletes at a ceremony in February. This was my first time attending and I have to say I was blown away. The Pensacola Bay area is a remarkable community in many ways and the number of talented athletes from this community ranks high among them.


As Keith Gill, Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference commented in his keynote remarks “WOW, what an incredible program recognizing so many outstanding individuals.”

As a lifelong learner my ears and mind are always open; I’m always ready to scribble down or type notes. As Commissioner Gill spoke, I realized I was being gifted a leadership lesson. I grabbed my phone and opened the notes app and started typing.

I had the opportunity to speak to him after the event, share my contact info and ask if he would be kind enough to send me his remarks. Like a true leader, he sent them to me that same night.

Here are some of the leadership lessons and thoughts he shared:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Gill recognized and thanked the leaders in the room, not just the athletes. He reminded us all that we lead from where we are and challenged us to do three important things.


I sat forward in my seat. This was going to be good!

Give Thanks

“Let’s talk about giving THANKS” Gill said. “I would like to spend a moment encouraging everybody in this room to give thanks.  No matter how skilled and talented you may be…you can accomplish nothing without the help of others.  Take a moment to think of all the people in your life who have helped you along your journey and thank them.”

Leadership Tip: Have a system for recognizing and thanking people.

I’m not suggesting you do away with spontaneity by any means, indeed take every opportunity you can, however having a system in place ensures that you are intentional. I have “Thankful Thursdays” blocked on my calendar. I take at least 30 mins to write notes, cards, and letters to people and guess what? It’s not a chore, I enjoy this time. It fills my cup and when I hear how people enjoy receiving them, I know it fills their cup.

Role Model

“If you are in this room, you are a leader and somebody that others emulate.  In other words, you are a role model.  Please embrace being a ROLE MODEL.  Make it your goal that every day you will set an example for others to live by.” Said Gill as he told the story of his mom and what an inspiration and role model, she was to him. She grew up in South Carolina during the Jim Crow laws and segregation. She made many sacrifices for her children, to ensure that they could grow up to be all the things she could not be. As I listened, I thought about all the sacrifices my mum made for us and what a role model she is. I made a commitment in my head to live my life in a way to inspire people because you never know when you can make a difference.

Leadership Tip: Who, What and Why

Make a list of the people who have inspired you and been a role model in your life. Maybe you know them or maybe they are famous people you don’t. Either way, write them down and with bullet points or short sentences describe what they did and why they are inspiring or a role model to you. (Maybe you can add them to your “Thankful Thursday” list too.) Next, think who you could be a role model to; your children, colleagues, or random strangers, because as Gill said, “You never know who is watching!”

Be Humble and Kind

I was already deep in thought on what I could do to follow Commissioner Gill’s advice when he hit his next point. “I believe that humility and kindness go together and are so important to sustainable success.  Kindness has such a positive impact on those you touch.”

Gill went on to talk about the unfortunate part of his job was to watch the decline of sportsmanship.  He described how everyone is so angry and believes they are RIGHT, and somebody was deliberately trying to cheat them, yet he felt that most people are just trying to get it right without concern for the outcome of the game. He made an ask of the people in the room ~ be a part of the solution.  Be KIND.  Be GRACIOUS and don’t be so quick to anger.

Leadership Tip:

Remember coaches can be one the greatest gifts we receive.  They can see our potential before we see it in ourselves. It’s our job to be open to coaching, to stay humble and to accept being pushed hard. We may tend to think that when we receive coaching to run the extra laps or change a tactic, coach is singling us out and being mean, when really coach knows we have more and better in us, and its coming from a place of caring and concern for our success.

Rachael Gillette, President

Studer Community Institute


*Note from Local Pulse Editor: Rachael Gillette is a part of our Community Voices series. Community Voices is a group of Pensacola dwellers that are making a difference in our city by sharing best practices, experiences, their perspective on impactful subjects, and contributing expertise that leads to movement forward for a stronger community.