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Ex-Johnson Controls CEO Alex A Molinaroli reveals the 3 business books that changed his life

Molinaroli says you'll easily hone the workplace leader within you with these trusted tomes.
Alex A Molinaroli was at the helm of Johnson Controls for 34 years before retiring in 2017 to pursue new advising and venture capital endeavors. During his time at Johnson Controls, Alex A Molinaroli led the company through a transformation that divested its automotive businesses and merged with Tyco International, turned the brand into a premium industrial company, and expanded its footprint in China.

With such extensive experience in leadership, Alex A Molinaroli has discovered the value of authenticity. “To me, you can see through it when someone is not authentic,” he says. “So whatever your genuine self is, be true to that. We’re all different. If you’re pretending to be someone else or a ‘poser’, as my kids would say, people can tell. It’s best to be yourself.”

Ensuring that team members feel like they’re truly part of the company and key to its mission is another key element to being a successful leader, according to Alex A Molinaroli. “Look for the good in each individual,” he says. “Also, the path to success is a long road, and you don’t have to be in a rush. Learn as you go.”

Molinaroli also believes that communication is a key component for success. “Internal communication can be a challenge, so often you may find out what’s going from external sources to improve communication internally in a company,” he says.

Alex A Molinaroli says he spent 40% of his career traveling for business, and he often read books during flights. Along with reading about current events, Molinaroli liked his reading to be as fast-paced as his career, and he particularly enjoyed fictional page-turners by Stephen King and suspense thrillers by Tom Clancy. But when it comes to business and leadership books, Alex A Molinaroli has some specific reads to recommend—and they’re all dog-eared favorites on his bookshelf. “These are three books that have provided a framework I’m really drawn to,” Alex A Molinaroli says. “Perhaps others will appreciate these books and what they have to offer.”

The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organisational Accountability by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman

“I really like the basis of this book, which primarily focuses on being accountable,” Alex A Molinaroli says. “Stay positive, be accountable, and don’t blame others.” This book offers a framework to foster the accountability that Molinaroli so often espouses.

Why you should read it now: According to Alex A Molinaroli, it’s important to take ownership of your actions, communicate, and be open to change. This approach allows great leaders to emerge. The book cleverly utilises the beloved main characters from “The Wizard of Oz” to inspire employees and leaders to discover their own power and uncover individual and organisational accountability.

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

“This book is very much centered around work process improvement and constraint removals,” Alex A Molinaroli says. “Many manufacturing organisations and even business schools require their employees and students to read this book. It teaches you through storytelling the theory of constraints and how to remove them for process improvement.”

Why you should read it now: In a quick pace, Goldratt portrays a unique perspective on promoting efficiency in the workplace. “Being able to truly listen is another valuable skill in and out of the workplace. It’s something I learned early on in my career that has stuck with me for a long time,” Alex A Molinaroli says. “You have to create a vision that makes sense, and people will want to be a part of that. And you have to be able to relate to your employees and solve problems. You cannot do everything yourself, and it’s important to have people who are aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey

“I try to live by the foundation and fundamentals of leadership this book provides,” says Alex A Molinaroli, who read it early during his tenure at Johnson Controls. “I especially like using a framework of leadership based on principles that will empower those around us to reach their potential. Everyone has a superpower and needs to be engaged.” 

Why you should read it now: Covey challenges readers to center their professional lives around principles of excellence and quality and covers the conditions of effectiveness and patterns of organisational excellence, which include continual learning, belief in others, leading balanced lives, viewing life as an adventure, and more. “Look for the good in each individual,” Alex A Molinaroli says. “Learn what motivates others.”

About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as,,, Boris is the founder of and
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