Mayors and Urban Governance: Developing a Facilitative Leadership Style


Stephen Greasley is a research associate in the Institute for Political and Economic Governance at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on the impact of political management reforms on English local government and the quality of local democracy.

Gerry Stoker is a professor of politics and governance at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. He held previous professorial posts at Manchester and Strathclyde. His main research interests are governance, democratic politics, local and regional governance, urban politics, public participation, and public service reform.


Modern urban governance, because of its demanding and complex environment, requires a facilitative style of local political leadership that is visible, outward looking, open, and less partisan than more established forms. This article examines the impact of new constitutional expressions of local political leadership in England since the introduction of executive forms of governance for larger municipalities in 2002. The mayoral form, though established in only a handful of municipalities, is showing signs of supporting a more facilitative leadership style compared to the more widespread council leader model. This finding may be explained by the decision-making resources of mayors and their relationship to followers, which are, in turn, created by the institutional framing of their role by new constitutional arrangements. Political leadership is not simply a product of personality, capabilities, or contingency—although all of these factors play a part. Crucially, from the perspective of reformers, institutional design does make a difference and can encourage leadership practices of a particular style and form.