We’re pleased to announce that Darcy Southwell is this year’s winner of the i2Coalition Community Leadership Award which will be presented at our i2Coalition Internet Leadership Awards Lunch on September 18th in Washington, D.C.
With over 20 years of compliance, contracts, and legal experience, Darcy leads global compliance at Endurance International Group, a leading provider of web presence solutions aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses succeed online.
Darcy and her colleagues at Endurance are strong supporters of an open and free Internet, and Darcy participates in various projects to improve Internet governance and to protect the freedoms of the global citizens who use the Internet. She’s actively involved with i2Coalition as Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.
We had a chance to talk with her about what community leadership really means, why it matters, and how it can be used to drive meaningful change.
David Hamilton (i2C): On a general level, how would you define good community leadership?
Darcy Southwell: Good community leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, but I think there are a few critical components no matter the issue at hand or type of community group. First, effective leaders must be able to communicate and collaborate. And one of the fundamental aspects to both of those is listening. If you only show up to speak, collaboration won’t happen. Leaders must also be courageous. You must be willing to jump in with both feet, even if you’re feeling unsure. You must be willing to ask tough questions that may seem unpopular and discuss them in a thoughtful, respectful manner. Finally, leaders must be creative. Problem solving can be difficult. Sometimes a single solution seems to elude the entire group, while other times all potential solutions are simply unfeasible. Allowing yourself to be creative and think outside the box may lead you to the perfect solution, or at the very least lead you and the rest of your community into a new discussion that finds the right solution.
DH: How have you seen community leadership contribute to the long-term health of your organization?
DS: Community leadership contributes to Endurance’s long-term health in a couple of ways. By participating in registrar community groups such as ICANN or i2Coalitions’ ICANN Committee, Endurance has a seat at the table to learn about key industry changes that may impact its long-term strategies or to contribute to the development of industry policy that impacts its daily operations.
Community leadership also offers individuals the opportunity to practice and improve a variety of skills within a diverse group: problem solving, diplomacy, collaboration and communication, analysis, innovation, and public speaking. For our employees who participate in this community work, this growth opportunity benefits them both personally and professional and is something they take back to the work they do every day at Endurance.
DH: What are some steps companies can do to foster community at their company or in the broader industry?
DS: The first step is to decide what’s important to your business. For some Internet infrastructure companies, the passion may be focused on how to improve data security or preventing abusive content on the Internet. For some others, the passion may be to fully engage in legislative development.
Once that’s decided, look around and find out what’s within your organization and what community groups are out in the broader landscape that you can join. If not, consider starting a group.
Sometimes internal communities can lead businesses to extend that interest into a more global community. For example, a company that is focused on improving diversity and inclusion within its own culture may find participation in something like i2C’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative (DII) synergistic to their own internal efforts.