The philosophy of Gordon Ramsay

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 2nd November 2023

As you will already know, I am a bit of a productivity nut. And you may know that I am also a bit of a food nut. I am currently reading Gordons Ramsay’s new book, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay: A Story of Excellence. It is half autobiography, and half cookbook. And it is a great read if you are a foodie. 

Even though he runs an empire of restaurants around the world, his first restaurant is still his most cherished, you can tell. He opened Restaurant Gordon Ramsay twenty-five years ago and has held three Michelin stars for twenty-two of those years. This book is very much a homage to this restaurant and his philosophy which drives the consistently high standards they have achieved there. 

His food philosophy is very clear and comes out on every page of the book. Lightness is one of the cornerstones of his philosophy. When he started the restaurant, he was adamant that he would move away from the rich and heavy French-based cooking that he was trained in, and which dominated the restaurant scene in the UK at that time. All his dishes, and those of his chefs, strive for lightness. Restraint is another word that comes up a lot as he talks about his philosophy. As does seasonality, as he passionately believes in using what is in season and changes the menu with the seasons. Throw in produce and excellence, and that pretty much sums up his philosophy in five words.  

Being really clear about these things is incredibly useful in helping a large team operate at a consistently high level for many years. You can imagine that these ideas inform every recipe they design and cook, how they are presented, and even the clientele they are hoping to attract. New staff would have a clear handle on what the restaurant is trying to achieve and how it works. Gordon Ramsay, by clearly thinking about and communicating his food philosophy to those around him, allows his vision to be executed at the highest level, even when he is not there. What he calls the DNA of the restaurant guides every action by every member of staff.  

I believe the same is true when it comes to the productivity of your team. If a leader has a clear productivity philosophy, they communicate this clearly, and hold themselves and the team accountable to this philosophy, it moulds the DNA of the team. Or in other words, the culture of the team is informed by the leader’s philosophy. There is a direct link. The team’s productivity philosophy informs the intentions of the team. Their intentions then drive behaviours, and in turn, the groups behaviours shift the culture.  

All teams have three distinct productivity cultures. These cultures can sometimes be unhealthy and detrimental to the productivity of the team. They may have an email culture that can be noisy and overwhelming. They may have a meeting culture that can mean too much time spent in unproductive meetings. And they may have an urgency culture that can lead to everyone being too reactive and busy.  

To create more productive cultures for your team, you need to start with a clear philosophy about productivity, and how you want your team to work and collaborate. Being purposeful, mindful, reliable and punctual would be a good starting point. These intentions would drive actual behaviours, which in turn would shift the culture. Of course, this requires work and effort, but if you want your team to operate at the highest level, you cannot shy away from this work. Ask Gordon Ramsay! 

If you feel that your team needs to do some work on their email culture, meeting culture or urgency culture, we should have a chat about our Smart Teams Masterclasses. Running one of these masterclasses at your next team offsite could be the perfect way for you to make 2024 a most productive year for your team. Send me an email at and let’s have a chat about your productivity philosophy.  

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