Gordon Ramsay Is a World Class Chef—but Is He a Leader?

Angry Chef
(iStock photo)

"Yes, Chef!" seems to be the only acceptable reply to Chef Gordon Ramsay's deep fried rants in the kitchen.

While I will quickly admit that television producers like to dramatize Ramsay's actions in a kitchen, it sure seems to me that his natural tendencies as a leader are fully transparent. I also know that Ramsay produces several of his own shows.

It would be difficult to find fault with the success of his restaurants. The Gordon Ramsay Group has, at last count, 25 restaurants scattered around the globe. He has earned seven Michelin stars to punctuate the culinary success of his restaurant offerings. He is a wildly accomplished chef and entrepreneur.

He has also enjoyed success in television programming. Without question, he is a star and a well-established brand. But I refuse to call him a leader.

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I'm a fairly regular viewer of MasterChef and MasterChef Junior. I watched Hell's Kitchen a few times and could not endure to watch further as the chef criticized contestants. The show has an appropriate title for the leadership style displayed by Ramsay. Ramsay behaves like a brat and has zero control of his language. If he stopped the flinging of expletives, would his food taste bad or his shows become boring? Would his brand be diminished?

It's not unusual for a chef to "lose it" the way Ramsay does. Bad behavior in a kitchen is usually understood and even expected in a hot kitchen. Many would-be chefs can't take the heat so they prefer to stay out of such kitchens. The creative ability, artistry and chemistry of a master chef seems to allow a margin for tantrum throwing. It goes with the territory.

All the good that Ramsay does is tainted by the way we see him treat people. A fundamental principle of leadership is to nurture and grow a team of future leaders. The more established a leader's brand becomes, the more important it is to demonstrate controlled aggression in the heat of battle. A fast-paced, working kitchen certainly isn't the place for diaper dandies or low confidence line cooks.

But we must expect more of leaders. All leaders swim in a fishbowl. Future stars keep one eye on the skillet and another eye on the style of a leader. "Maybe Gordon's style of leadership is how I should run my kitchen."

I think this is what bothers me most about watching Gordon throw a fit as he kicks neophytes out of his kitchen. Young people model what appears to be successful behavior. But the untold stories of chefs who have failed in abusive kitchens, provide a multipage menu of how not to lead.

Gordon Ramsay is truly a master chef and businessman. But, in my opinion, this guy represents all that is bad about leaders with no followers. No, Chef!

Your gifts open doors. Your character keeps you there.

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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