Performance Personal and Professional Development

9 surprising high performance lessons from Hell’s Kitchen

Reading Time: 2 minutes None of them are about cooking

Reading Time: 2 minutes

None of them are about cooking

Hell’s Kitchen image of Chef Gordon Ramsey in a chefs jacket with metalic angel or demon wings.
During COVID I watched this show too much (ie. all 18 seasons available on prime)

You can learn a lot about performance if you watch enough episodes.


I am not a social scientist and these ideas have not been rigorously tested in a real lab. I am a sucker for Hell’s kitchen and performance. These lessons are based observations of the show from my perspective as a leader who is fascinated by individual, team, and organizational behaviour, and really enjoys some fun, dumb tv.

Nine lessons about performance

During covid, Hells Kitchen has been my favourite show to have on the iPad while I cook, or clean. It’s amazing (for perspective I also loved the first six seasons of the Vampire Diaries).

The show is fantastic and terrible and I love it.

It also turns out that between the punishments, venting in the dorms, dinner service, and challenges there are a lot of lessons about high performance and people. Luckily, both as leaders and individual contributors we can apply these lessons to our own careers without going on the show (which does seem Hellish).

we can apply these lessons to our own performance

To keep this bite sized each lesson is linked to it’s own article. On average they take about 4 minutes to read and they can be read in any order. The first lesson is the longest at 10 minutes, but maybe you only have 4 minutes right now.

Oh, and if you’re planning on going back to watch old seasons expect some spoilers.

Who knew you could learn so much from TV?

  1. Women improve men’s teams (10 min)
  2. Top performers thrive with high and clear expectations (4 min)
  3. Top performers have these three abilities (6 min)
  4. Trajectory matters (4 min)
  5. Individuals need the team to win (5 min)
  6. When you’re struggling, speak up (5 min)
  7. Remove bottom performers (6 min)
  8. Top performers can stand back without disappearing (4 min)
  9. Leaders need to grow too (4 min)

I hope you enjoy this series of performance lessons from Hell’s Kitchen. If you have a comment, feedback, or idea add it below, shoot me an email, or send me a tweet.

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