In a context where changes brought about by globalization and Europeanization, and where local governments increasingly operate in a governance mode, different countries place increasing stress on the importance of strong local leadership. This article reviews local political leadership in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Outside of a few major (mainly capital) cities, local government in the Nordic area remains small scale and frequently rural, is strongly partisan, yet relies on a strong tradition of consensual, corporatist style of decision‐making. Furthermore, this social democratic consensus places a stress on the continued production and delivery of high quality welfare state services. This domestic environment produces a style of local leadership which is essentially collective in nature and in which the strong mayor concept is alien. The article reviews the experience of local political leadership in the four Nordic countries and concludes that, though there is some small country variation and without many examples of strong mayors, local political leaders play an important role, especially in managing and maintaining the consensual style of politics.