Wolff explains how his father’s death influenced his leadership style

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff lost his father at an early age. He says the “trauma” shaped his approach to leadership: “I need to protect my tribe, no matter what”.

Toto Wolff was only a teenager when his father passed away due to brain cancer, so he had to learn to take care of himself and his family since an early age. The experience shaped his outlook on life and his leadership style.

“There’s various grades of trauma,” the Austrian told the Race.com.

“I’m not speaking about trauma that is caused by abuse or war. But losing a parent is trauma. And everything that’s linked to it, because it took a long time for this to happen.

“That follows me every single day. Because as a husband, as a father, as a business owner, as a friend, I just like to avoid anybody around me having the same experience that I had.

“It is my responsibility to look after everybody in this organisation, and my family. That’s maybe also because I had to take responsibility at a very early age for my sister and I.


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“What it triggers in me is an instinct of ‘this is my tribe, and I need to protect my tribe, no matter what’. It triggers an emotional response in me. It’s not even something that I’m doing on purpose.

“I can analyse rationally what I’m doing. But I don’t know, it just comes out. This is the most important part. I won’t let anybody hit out on anybody within the tribe.”

As an example of this outlook Wolff lists the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, when a loose headrest forced Lewis Hamilton to go into the pits and get a replacement.

“I had an interview, somebody asked me to say who was responsible for the headrest coming off, and to name the person, it just sent me sky-high. It’s my responsibility to protect the group.

“It’s protecting every individual to the best of my abilities within the tribe,” concluded Wolff.

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