It is Digital Leaders Week and an opportunity to learn and share the digital innovation that is happening across the public sector and beyond.

We are excited by our digital journey in Stockport and were proud to be named a finalist in the Digital Leaders Smart City Award in 2020.  This recognised the progress we have made over the past few years and our whole system approach.

For us being a Smart City isn’t about flashy projects, it is about transforming peoples lives. This means that our work on digital inclusion is just as important as the radical investment in our town centre and connectivity.  It is also about living and breathing digital and human centred design in the way we work as a council.

This has been so important throughout our pandemic response. Digital has played a powerful role in keeping people connected but conversely those that are digitally excluded have felt even more isolated.  Our Digital Inclusion Alliance and network of digital champions has been more important than ever.

So, what does it mean to be a digital leader?  I must be honest, I struggle to think of myself in that way. I am surrounded by talented people that are passionate and enthusiastic about driving the agenda forward. For me leadership is about encouraging and facilitating that, helping to raise the profile and ensuring a strong narrative and building consensus.

Some of the best leaders I have worked with understand people and create a culture where others can thrive.  They are able to set a clear vision of a future that does not yet exist but more importantly have the ability to communicate it and inspire others to believe in it.

As we move forward, we are eager to move from a radically digital council to a radically digital borough. We are thinking about digital in its broadest sense – the economy, our local communities and continuing our journey as a council. 

We are also eager to move beyond a service paradigm. We want to make sure we design services that are human centred but so much work of a Local Authority is not about service delivery. It is about the role we play in enabling and empowering others – whether that be our communities or local businesses.

This is why we are proud to be part of a “One Stockport” movement which at its heart is about collaboration, inclusion and supporting our local communities.  It sends a powerful message of what we can achieve if we work together and that is more important than ever.

Kathryn Rees is Service Director Strategy and Commissioning at Stockport Council.

Good Leader image by Simon Sinek.

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