You may not have heard of Kevin Lynch, but as CTO at Apple, he’s responsible for the continued development of software that millions of us rely on every day. His influence is therefore significant, but the path he took to get to where he is now is a lesson for anyone looking to make it in management.

It took Lynch twenty-four years and six different positions to reach the role of CTO for Apple. And that’s worth digesting for a moment, because it gives perhaps the best indication of the effort, determination and sheer patience that is require to reach the pinnacle of one’s career.

If you’re on the verge of making it as a manager or leader within your chosen field, but have had little to no experience managing people or being responsible for significant chunks of a business, I’ve picked out four tips that will help you prepare for the leap.

1. Start creating your manager persona – now

No matter the role you occupy, when you enter the workplace each day, you turn into an actor. Even if your job feels entirely natural, you still have to put on an act in order to separate your personal life from that of your work.

With that in mind, and if you haven’t been a manager until now, you’ll need to work on a new persona. Everything from the way in which you enter the office to the method by which you sign-off your emails matters and will have an effect on your team. Decide upon the type of manager you want to be and start building your new character today.

2. Find a mentor

You don’t – and, in fact, shouldn’t – have to do this alone. Most successful managers have had a guiding hand to help them along their way, and that often comes in the form of a mentor.

A mentor can be someone who has a particularly stellar background in your field or who is unconnected to your industry but significantly skilled and experienced in management. You may know this person already, or you might have to seek them out (industry events and LinkedIn are great starting points), but whoever they are, start looking for them and make one of the most important friends you’ll have.

3. Outline some goals

The business you work for will obviously have goals for your time in management, but it’s vital that you set some of your own, too.

What do you want to achieve from this role? What personal milestones do you want to hit? Are there specific skills you want to master? Outline some of your own goals, and ensure they’re measurable and achievable.

4. Read, learn and connect online

You never stop learning as a manager, and if you’re yet to jump fully into the role, you can do a lot worse than starting to read up on it now.

Throw yourself into the world of management by regularly reading blogs focusing on the topic. Delve into YouTube and find as many management gurus as you can. Scour social media for thought leaders in the field and connect with them.

Make learning part of the job – it’s a task you’ll never finish and find uniquely addictive.

Wrapping up

Kevin Lynch reached the role of Apple’s CTO through sheer grit and determination, but he will almost certainly have relied upon the strategies above to prepare himself for a significant change in responsibility.

You can do the same. Enjoy it, set yourself those all-important goals and never stop learning!

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