The paper assesses the impact of the elected executive mayor on leadership and management in UK local government. After exploring the new executive arrangements introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, the three themes of governing, governance and allegiance within mayoral councils are discussed in detail. Principally using the results of interviews with a group of the mayors first elected in 2002, the paper suggests that the directly elected mayor has an enhanced individual role in the leadership of the local council, that elected mayors increasingly coordinate the efforts of external partners in the wider governance of the area, that new and potentially problematic relationships are developed with elected councillors and with senior managers, and that there is a changed local political context in which the mayor must now operate. The elected mayor is seen as both leader and manager. It is suggested that mayors have sought a new direct relationship with the public, and that this has implications for the continued role of other local representatives. Finally, the prospects for extending the mayoral experiment under the ‘modernization’ framework of the government re-elected in May 2005 are examined. Although the mayoral initiative has been adopted in only a small number of councils, it is concluded that leadership and management of the local authority are significantly changed within those areas.