Lesson #2: A Strong Team Leads the Trail to Tomorrow

“I’m only as good as my team,” says Ramsay. “Building a team is part of the foundation of a good business.”

You may not know it to watch Ramsay in action on his “Hell’s Kitchen” reality television show, where verbally abusing his kitchen staff is a regular occurrence, but Ramsay actually does place a high importance on the people around him. As much as he may let his temper get the better of him from time to time, Ramsay knows that it is the team by his side that is helping him get the job done.

“Everyone thinks you’re an arsehole to work for because you get straight to the point,” says Ramsay. “I’ve the most amazing relationship with my guys, and yeah, if things go wrong, they have to take it. But I expect just as much from myself as I do from them.”

To that end, Ramsay is a firm believer in leading by example. Whether it’s scaling a salmon or sticking his fingers inside a turkey, if Ramsay does it, he makes his kitchen staff do it too. “No one calls me Mr. Ramsay, it's Gordon. It's not chef, it's Gordon,” he says. “We spend more time at work than we do with our families, so they're our family and we have to make them feel included. That's how you get the best out of your team.”

Ramsay also knows that as head chef, it is his role to guide and help teach those who work under him. It is only by educating them and challenging their abilities that they will remain motivated and eager to work for him, despite his temper. “You stay on top of it by building momentum,” says Ramsay. “I expose my staff by really dropping them in at the deep end. It's sink or swim. If they sink they are going to drop down and division and if they swim, they're going to go on and become successful.”

Ramsay still has 85 percent of his staff that he had in 1993, which is relatively unheard of in the industry and speaks volumes about his abilities as a team leader. Part of his secret to motivating his troops involves keeping them focused on the task at hand. They are not allowed to read restaurant reviews, if they are positive that is, because he does not want them to be self-indulgent.

“It's important not to rely on approval from outside the team,” says Ramsay. “It's about every day achievement; we have to start from scratch every day. We don't think in terms of what we've got and how good we are. I'm not interested in reading a complimentary letter; I want to see a complaint letter.”

But so far, what are most of those complaint letters about? “That our switchboard is blocked,” says Ramsay. Indeed, his call centre averages 2,500 calls a day for reservations at one of his restaurants. By that measure, the Ramsay team seems to be on top of its game.

Want More?

New Graphic
Subscriber Counter