Digital Leadership Programme

Our collaborative work has shown how important the quality of leadership is to success.  Rethink partners has provided leadership coaching to several councils who have been at different stages of their journey to apply digital.

We challenge them to think outside the box and support them to tackle the barriers which are preventing them from reaching their digital goals.  We are currently working with a diverse range of councils who will share their practices and insights. Here we gather useful insights and tools from this work.

digital care technology leadership competency framework

People working in councils leading care technology programmes are an emerging professional group with varied experience and backgrounds but with one thing in common – you are all pioneers.  

Check out our Leadership Competency Framework to see what strengths and skills are required to be successful in this role.

the themes

innovative leaders​

Building digital care services around people often demands the most innovative thinking, but it’s hard to break new ground when pressure to deliver nails our imagination to well-trodden pathways. 

embracing change

How we feel as citizens impacts on how we think and act as digital leaders. The same can be said for our teams, partners, and the people we are supporting.  If we are to bring the opportunities digital can offer to life we’ll need to address personal bias – our own and that of others – and learn how to embrace change.

partnerships and collaboration

Developing successful partnerships takes time and effort so being clear why working in partnership is a good thing and what you might want it to achieve is an important starting point. Stepping into collaborative partnerships isn’t easy, but for those of us trying to drive forward a digital-first agenda our unifying principal – focussing on patients, citizens, service users – is the best reason for trying.


The idea of risk avoidance and aversion has become a dominant and crucial feature in the way public services are designed, managed and reviewed. The problem is that too often this approach to understanding and managing risk limits opportunities for innovation.  So how can local authorities reframe risk to enable innovation?

equality, diversity and inclusion

When planning your digital strategy – both internally and externally – it is important to consider how every individual will experience the application of digital.  Some sections of the population are more likely to be digitally excluded than others.

the councils

Gateshead Council

[Lorinda] I’m Lorinda Russell and I’m service manager within adult social care in Gateshead Council.

I’ve worked for the local authority for 42 years, so started off basically within human resources and then moved to housing and then from 2001, social care. But actually in relation to digital enabled care, I’ve actually been doing that kind of role and responsibility I suppose from a strategic perspective for about 20 years.

So obviously when we came aware of the digital care technology around leadership, it was something that really appealed to me.

I mean even though I might be reaching towards the end of my career in local government, I don’t think you’re ever too old to learn new things and in particular, the sector we’re working in is coming into a very exciting time I think.

Certainly digital care is going to be more or hoping to be more predictive than reactive which is what it always has been – a more of a reactive service. There’s some really interesting things come along on the market around making it more predictive and actually from a social care perspective, it’s about being able to prevent things individuals. It isn’t just a social care issue though, it’s across the board.

Social care, housing, health and also enabling our communities to have access to digital as well. You know, I think that’s a really important element

So things I’d like to get out of the programme are really around spreading that message within the social care workforce. We have a really good leadership who really embrace technology and digital but we still think there’s work to do with professionals to get them to look at technology and the way it’s evolving and changing to be able to help them in the role they have when they’re assessing clients and also from our community of Gateshead.

You know, there may be some barriers there where people might not want to accept digital. Maybe they’re not too sure of digital and everyone’s a little bit afraid. So let’s bring those barriers down and make our community aware of the help and support that digital can give to them.

[Natalie] I’ve worked in Lorinda’s department in business development and that was around KPIs and learning and the TSA and performance management. My new role actually is going to be service improvement, so, it’s actually driving forward that digital change as well.

[Lorinda]That’s a really important point, Natalie, because I think the from a social care perspective, they’ve invested additional money in a new role of improvement manager to drive that through, so I think there’s a foresight in relation to our senior leadership and what they want to do to embrace what’s coming along from the digital platform and to actually fund a key post to bring that and drive that through, I think is really key.