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The Nucleus Approach


Nucleus and SME statistics

Statements of chambers and SMEs

Impact: What changed? Interview with Jordi Castan


Legal property of the Nucleus Approach



Types of Nuclei

Manual for the Nucleus

The start

9 criteria for the selection of a sector

How to kill a Nucleus

Chambers and Associations

Lobby and Public Private Dialogue

Benchmarking of chambers

Questions and Answers concerning Chairperson and Board of Directors

Is it possible to change the chairperson’s leadership style?

No, in general, in the context of a chamber it is not possible to “change” a person. But one can change the organisational framework conditions requesting different attitudes and leadership styles from the person.

Teachers, medical doctors, engineers, plumbers and many other professionals are long time trained and have to pass tests before performing their jobs; chairpersons, members of the board of directors not. They have this in common with politicians, parents and others.

The chairperson is qualified for this job due to her / his election otherwise s/he would not have run for it. Therefore, the chairperson does not question her / his leadership style s/he applies the style to which s/he is used to in her / his enterprise (see: How will the new chairperson lead the chamber?)

To advice, counsel or train someone who does not suffer, who does not see the need for change, is impossible. And even if the chairperson would participate in a training course about the management and organisation of a chamber, organised by a federation or project, it remains difficult to imagine a real impact on the chairperson’s leadership style.

Conclusion: through direct interventions it is normally impossible to change the chairperson’s attitudes and leadership style.

When in the context of organisational development a chamber is changing from a “Business Club” into a lobby and service enterprise then step-by-step the chairperson is confronted with different requests from members, employees / CEO and board members. The framework conditions for leadership change. Certain attitudes concerning leadership are not any more accepted, others expected. This may take years to happen, sometimes interrupted by stagnation or setbacks.


An industrial town in the south of Brazil with about 250.000 inhabitants.

The almost 100 year old chamber of commerce and industry has about 200 members, a part-time CEO, three employees, a poor office. The local big industries do not participate in the chamber.

The member of the board of directors observes: “Here, the chairman decides and does everything. In reality, I’m only a dummy!” The surprise is less the behaviour of the chairman. He manages the chamber in reference to its traditions and in the way he is running his enterprise. The surprise is more this board member. An entrepreneur with 3.000 employees, investing six work hours per week and more into the chamber work


(weekly board meetings, other events) permits / accepts to be treated as dummy. The in Latin America prevailing saying “The president commands!” and the lack of knowing other chamber leadership styles seem to hinder a “revolt” or a retreat.

The implementation of the Nucleus Approach starts including the creation of Nuclei, training, workshops about all aspects of chamber work, missions to and from other countries, etc.

Eight years and two chairmen later: the chamber has about 1.000 members, a well qualified CEO, 12 employees, a well equipped adequate office. The chamber maintains close to 30 different Nuclei and three counsellors. The honoraries and professionals are involved in many local discussions and activities.

The new chairman is one of the owners of the biggest industry in town. A personality, fast, well known, with high reputation.

He opens the weekly meeting of the board of directors. “We have a problem!” All board members straighten up. Now they will discuss the problem. The chairman continues: “And I already talked to the mayor … and to those … and those, then I did this … and that … and so I solved the problem.” The board members lean back. Nothing to discuss and decide.

One day they started a revolt. “Chairman, if you decide and do everything, then we can go home. We are useless here and waste our time.” The chairman changed his style. He had to.

The mood, the spirit and the organisational structures had changed in the chamber. Board members had experienced in Nuclei and committees open discussions, the advantage of well moderated meetings and the cooperation with qualified chamber employees. They had observed or participated in bottom-up movements in  the chamber. Members, board members and 

 Now: The chairperson in a changed environment

employees had developed self-confidence. They respected the position of the chairman, but they requested also participation. All these changing framework conditions urged the chairman to adopt a respective leadership style what was not easy for him.

This corresponds with the main idea of the Nucleus Approach: through the organisation of member entrepreneurs in Nuclei stimulate a development process, which changes the relationship between chairperson, board members, employees and members, increasing the chamber’s performance concerning lobby and services.

This can work successfully and in a sustainable way. But it is not guaranteed. There are counter examples.

14/03/2009 - MueGlo /