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A letter to leaders

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Uncategorized

by Florian Klauer

Dear leaders,

Thank you for your compassionate and person-focused leadership.

I wanted to write to you because there is silent suffering in your organisation.

As a conscious leader, I know that you want to know about it, and what can be done.

As a conscious leader, I know that you care about your people and you want to see them flourish and succeed with their endeavours. In some, there is something that is holding them back.

“The leaders who get the most out of their people are the leaders who care most about their people.”

Simon Sinek

Chronic pain.

Chronic pain is arguably the number one global health burden. The suffering is immeasurable and the costs enormous (€441bn per year in Europe).

With one in five people being affected directly, perhaps more, and the effects upon their loved ones and their work colleagues, this is a significant problem for society. It is also a problem for businesses and organisations who are striving to achieve results and make an impact.

In a sports team, a player can choose to hide persisting pain. They may fear the consequences of admitting to the coach that they are suffering. Clearly this will depend upon the environment created by the leader. There is no difference between this and the workplace.

What are the pressures to look and operate in a particular way? Is there a perceived weakness? The reality is that the person needs help, support and guidance. We all need help, support and guidance. Even leaders who maybe feeling isolated at the top.

We know that levels of engagement at work affect results. Low levels of engagement and the reasons are understood. Beyond this will be the impact of chronic pain upon an individual’s ability to engage and perform. Here is an opportunity to help another human being, and increase engagement.

Engaged teams have 21% greater profitability


So, there is an opportunity. There are ways to address the problem of pain. And as a leader of people, I believe you will be interested to know what we can do. If you would like to hear my suggestions, please read on.

Create a space for people to come and talk

If people feel safe to talk, they can share their story. Then we can understand their needs and look at ways that we can help and support them. This positive approach has the knock on effect of creating a positive environment where the person and the wider community in the workplace feels heard and valued. This increases engagement.

As a leader, you can create the space.


Just listen. Hear what the person says so that you can truly understand. You are probably very good at this already. But we can continue to hone this skill.

Simon Sinek describes extreme listening. This takes it to another level.

Understand pain

One of the primary reasons that chronic pain persists is because pain is misunderstood.

Pain is a perception. The key players in pain are attention and expectation. Healthcare is built on a dualist model, seeking a physical cause for pain. This is a very limited way to view a complex experience that is only subjective and never truly measurable.

Pain and injury, pain and tissue state are poorly related. Consider phantom limb pain.

There are many reasons why pain, which can never be seen, increase and decrease. They include at least: the environment, the current and prior actions, the state of the person, their life story, their beliefs and outlook, the people around, the context.

Pain is embodied (it is always perceived within the boundaries of the body; even when the body part is no longer present) and embedded (within a context).

Each person’s pain is unique to them. It is theirs.

As a leader, you do not need to have an in-depth understanding of the science of pain. You do need to understand that it is complex, personal and that you can help.

Build your knowledge here, with the Pain Points.

Pain can and does change

All perceptions change. They are not set in stone. This gives great hope together with the ever-evolving scientific understanding of pain.

Starting with understanding your pain, you can then move on to shape a positive future by creating new habits and building wellness. This includes pursuing a purpose.

A leader can help the person reconnect with their purpose.

Work as a means of transforming pain

Traditionally it is thought that the person needs to get better in order to return to work.

However, I suggest that in most cases we can turn this idea on its head. We can use return to work as a means of getting better and transforming pain.

This requires understanding, compassion and good communication on both sides. It also needs a good plan that is gradually progressed towards a picture of success.

Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

Simon Sinek

Being there for someone who is suffering is one sure way of building and growing a relationship. As a leader, you can choose to take this approach.

In your business or organisation, it is likely that someone is suffering. Most likely in silence, or at least not sharing the extent of their suffering. This is impacting upon their life and yours.

Now you know that you can make a difference. You are not becoming a therapist or a doctor. You are being a person-focused leader.

If you would like an informal chat when I can listen to you and then share some thoughts, do let me know.

Thank you for your time, from all those you lead.

Richmond Stace ~ The Pain Coach & Specialist Pain Physio