Numerous researchers have argued that local leadership has been fundamental to the growth or revitalisation of metropolitan and regional communities across the globe. Leadership is also seen to play an important role in encouraging innovation and the growth of new industries. This article considers the role of place leadership in two peripheral Australian regions: the Wheatbelt of Western Australia and the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Both are large, sparsely-populated regions that have traditionally relied upon broad-scale agriculture. Both regions are experiencing a period of profound economic restructuring and place leaders have had a critical role in attempts to shape a new future. The article considers the nature and role of place leaders in the two case studies and also examines their relationship with the formal institutions of government and their connections to the global economy.