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Leadership, improvement and continuous learning

We promote and support quality improvement learning and leadership development in the social service sector and work with different types of services to support activity.

Supporting quality improvement learning

We work with partners to strengthen the use of improvement approaches and ensure a more coordinated approach to improvement across the sector. We work with partners to develop approaches to strengthen the improvement capacity of the workforce, including the development of quality improvement knowledge and skills. We support and promote learning activities and resources to support workers in social services to use the improvement model, carry out tests of change and use a range of improvement tools and techniques.

Leadership development can be used to underpin and support improvement activity.

Why is leadership important?

Leadership behaviours and skills contribute to the continuous learning of the workforce. There is a direct link between good performance in social services and effective leadership and developing leadership at all levels is important.

Our Enabling leadership research identifies what good leadership looks like in Scotland’s social services. This research informed Enhancing leadership capability: The strategy for enhancing the leadership capability of Scotland’s social services: Delivery plan 2017-2020 which sets out how Scotland’s social services will continue to develop leadership.

Its vision is for frontline workers, managers and strategic leaders to recognise and use their leadership capability to contribute to service design and delivery that meets the personal outcomes of people using services.

You can find all of our leadership development resources, assess your own leadership capabilities and plan how to develop them on Step into Leadership.

Leadership and continuous learning in social services

The Continuous Learning Framework illustrates how workers and organisations can develop their knowledge, skills and values and we support the sector to use it to help them develop learning cultures and the softer skills and behaviours needed to deliver social services that meet peoples’ needs.

Leadership development across public services

We work closely with Workforce Scotland which is a collaboration of people from across public services in Scotland who work together on complex, systemic issues to support public service transformation.

We also work closely with partners in health and education to support the policy implementation in these areas. We are currently involved in the Leadership for Integration programme with NHS Education for Scotland and the Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland). The programme supports the development of leadership capability necessary for achieving the vision of health and social care integration in Scotland.

You can get involved in the following ways.

  • The leadership reference group meets four times a year and is open to people interested in developing leadership in their organisation.
  • Our regular leadership events which we promote on our website.
  • We support individuals and organisations with their leadership and continuous learning developments. For example; capturing leadership stories or supporting them to use our resources to improve aspects of leadership and learning.
  • We look for support from the sector to develop a range of leadership resources.

We’d like to hear from you if you are developing, or would like to develop, your personal or organisational leadership capability or would like to learn more about quality improvement. If you’d like to share your stories on Step into Leadership contact us at:

We’d like to hear your views on our resources and if they have supported your professional development. Please click here to answer some short questions.

Step into Leadership

Find resources and information to develop your leadership skills on our Step into Leadership website.

What makes a good leader

Hear what Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, thinks about leadership in our short film.

Leadership Open Badges

Search for leadership Open Badges to get recognition for your learning and leadership capabilities.