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In 2002 Tina Tehranchian was one of only two women in the Iranian Canadian Network, a volunteer-driven group established to address the under-employment of professionals who had emigrated from Iran. The group chose her to be its first Chair.
Perhaps it was her philosophy on leadership that made them see she was the ideal choice.
“An effective leader is one who lets go of power and paves the way so the organization can carry on without that leader.”
This diplomatic approach came in handy when she was faced with an abusive email from a board member. Rather than reacting with equal force, she decided to address the issue head-on, explaining to the individual how the email impacted on her and requesting a face-to-face meeting. In the end, through careful communication, the issue was resolved and that individual ultimately moved into the Chair, supported by Tehranchian. The two remain friends today.
“If you don’t communicate that means war and war doesn’t get you anywhere,” Tehranchian explains.
Some years later she was invited to chair a fundraiser for a Columbia University project, chronicling 3,000 years of Persian history. Despite the likelihood of conflict, she opted to build a committee comprising the Iranian diaspora, fully reflective of all the distinct religious and political perspectives.
“The challenge was to not let it deteriorate into some political debate,” she says.
Although crisis management was not uncommon, the structure worked, producing a very successful fundraiser involving the entire community – and more.
“I got people to come together from very different backgrounds to be passionate about one cause.”
As for advice to rising leaders, she says unequivocally: “if the passion is there, the leadership will follow.”
Tina Tehranchian credits DiverseCity onBoard with allowing her to access a network she would otherwise not have been able to reach.