I've been a big fan of Kat Cole since we met several years ago on the set of Bloomberg Television. I became a bigger fan after hearing more about her rags-to-riches story: from starting off as a Hooters waitress to becoming one of the youngest executives to lead a global consumer food brand, Cinnabon.

Sometimes, this success comes at a price. We burn out. We sideline our families. And we also hurt ourselves without even knowing it - or even caring. It's a scary thing when this happens and I know I've had problems with this myself. Everyday I struggle to make sure I have balance in my life because if I don't have my health or family, I have nothing.

Cole has also struggled with personal issues too in her rise to the top and she recently opened up about it on Radiate, the platform we created to help you develop into a leader. For Cole, the price came in the form of an eating disorder early on in her career. "I was in my early 20s and was just starting to lead teams in a corporate environment," she said. "So, just think, I'm 20-, 21-years-old, I'm having my first corporate job, and I developed an eating disorder briefly."

What happened next really surprised Cole.

"My bosses noticed that I was getting very thin and was exercising three times a day and luckily, for me, my boss and one of the other team members on the team sat me down and said, `Look, we notice that something's going on and we're not trying to creep into your personal business but we're worried about you,'" she said.

But rather than just send her home to take care of her own issues, her bosses did something remarkable. They cared enough to give her honest feedback on the serious consequences.

"My boss, her name was Kimmy, this amazing woman said, she was so smart, she said, `You know, if you're not taking care of yourself, I don't know how the company is going to be able to really put the responsibility of opening these franchises around the world in your hands,'" she said. "And it spoke to me in a way that motivated me."

"It could have saved my life and it certainly saved my career," she continued. "That was a time where something in my personal life very much showed up at work and the courageous leaders really did the right thing."

How many people around you are also dealing with personal issues at work? Do you ignore them or try to help? As a manager and leader, it's your responsibility to help. Leading people is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever have and it often doesn't stop once your teammates leave the office. Their personal lives, when in dire straits, will inevitably affect their professional work.

Cole sought help after confronting her eating disorder and she's now Group President at Focus Brands, where she also works with other women entrepreneurs to "pay it forward." If you want to hear how other Radiate Experts handle people's personal issues at work, watch here. And if you have your own story to tell, please share in the comments below.

Published on: Sep 6, 2017
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