What worked for me:
- One on Ones. Nothing I've done has had as much of an impact as weekly one-on-one meetings with everybody on my team. I tend to follow the format outlined on Rands In Repose: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/the-update-the-vent-and-th... (This is an incredible blog for engineering management. I would highly recommend reading everything he has written.)
- Read everything you can find on the topic and about leadership in general and start figuring out how you can incorporate the lessons from those books into your situation and context. This is a brand new skill set that you need to approach with the same effort that you had been approaching engineering.
Rands in Repose: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/category/management/
Radical Candor: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Kim-Scott/dp/B01MY574E...
Extreme Ownership: https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Ownership-U-S-Navy-SEALs/dp/B...
Becoming a Technical Leader: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Technical-Leader-Problem-Sol...
- Finally, one piece of advice I got when I first transitioned into management was that "first-time managers usually fall into the trap of becoming the manager they wish they had. What you really need to do is figure out how to be the manager that each person on your team wishes they had, and become that manager." Easier said than done, obviously, but I've always found it useful to return to it whenever I am struggling.
Manager of a software development team here. Great advice. Thanks!
That is a very salient point. Managing a team of multiple people of different backgrounds, experience levels, quirks, communication styles, pet peeves, etc. is an exercise in adaptation.
As a Director, there are certain things you need your team to adapt to in order to keep your team on track with your strategy and process. How you go about getting them to do that is all about you adapting to them to get them excited, help them overcome hurdles, break down communication barriers, and build your relationship so they know you have their backs and you know you can rely on them.
It sounds easy in principle, but it is incredibly difficult in reality, particularly for those who may be stronger on the technical side than the communication side.
And P.S., you won't always be successful, so start planning for when (not if) you will fail in that regard. That means making sure your team knows that you are always open to their candid feedback so you can do a better job of supporting them.
On a final note, I'm quite partial to this illustration that nicely sums up your role in relation to your team . In another sense, some see an org chart with them at the top and their team beneath them. I see it as an inverse pyramid with the leader at the bottom supporting each and every one of their team members because your success is wholly dependent on their success at that level.