Leadership Lessons from Gordon Ramsey’s “To Hell And Back” - FocusU

Leadership Lessons from Gordon Ramsey’s “To Hell And Back”

Gordon Ramsey’s globally popular reality show “24 Hours to Hell and Back” is an American reality television program. The show features Ramsay’s travels across the United States, visiting failing restaurants in his 70-foot-long “Hell On Wheels” semi-truck, which is actually a high-tech mobile kitchen, where the chefs are retrained. At first the team is sent to visit and explore the restaurant and then Ramsay goes undercover. He examines the restaurant, tries to address the issues and works to reopen the restaurant in 24 hours.

The episode in question featured Los Toros, a family-owned Mexican restaurant (est. 1967), where the second-generation Chef and Owner is in considerable debt (450, 000 $). Dealing with his father’s death and having to take honourable leave of absence from serving the US Army had lead him to suffer from Hypertension. Furthermore, his kids were not mentally ready nor did they possess the required culinary skill set to take their grandfather’s legacy forward.

It was further discovered that line cooks had no basic knife skills due to them relying heavily on box cutters.

This episode had a host of leadership lessons to offer –


Los Toros was running in loss and had the debt of $450.000 but when Ramsay’s enquired about this with the family members of the owner, no one knew the exact picture. Even the staff was clueless. To add insult to the injury, the kitchen was stock full of raw chicken and mutton – all rotten. It couldn’t clearly be cooked or served  tiN the customers. Nick Sr, the owner was the only one who knew about all the right situation.

The lesson here is that when you are going through tough times, it becomes important for a leader to communicate the exact picture and situation to the whole team. This helps in communicating to every one  what they need to do and how will they come out of a situation. Leaders should never keep the team in dark.

“Forget about eloquence — worry about being real,”

– says Susan Tardanico, founder and CEO of the Authentic Leadership Alliance.

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Nick Sr. used to come to the restaurant daily. Despite the amount of work to be done, he never delegated any of it. He had his wife, son, and daughter and even few front line chefs ready to help him. What’s even more noteworthy is that even though his daughter was the designated manager, she was never allowed to exercise her duties. Neither was his son given a chance to get involved in the business.

When you are a leader it becomes imperative for you to delegate the tasks. Not doing so stops the staff and team members from developing their management skills, along with other relevant skill set. Also, delegation helps in building the maturity level as per the complexity of a given situation.

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie


When Ramsay visited the kitchen he saw the food ingredients and raw material kept had neither the proper dates marines nor the bottles were marked with their respective names. On being questioned, Nick Sr. Vehemently insisted that the said products were fresh and had been bought recently.

Leaders should always be honest. When a mistake is made, it should be accepted with full responsibility. Integrity plays a very important role in any business.

How can you expect your followers to be honest when you lack these qualities yourself? Leaders succeed when they stick to their values and core beliefs and without ethics, this will not be possible.

“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one”

– Zig Ziglar

Good leaders can be seen every where and there is so much to learn from each of them. I just never thought a reality show on Fox will inspire me!

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