The consolidation and strengthening of executive power at all levels of local government tends to limit traditional collective decision making within the council ( John 2001; Hambleton 2002; Getimis and Hlepas 2013). 1 According to the leadership and reform debate, this development is linked with various dynamics in the European countries: personalization of politics and institutional trends or direct election of mayors in the last decades (in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, see Hambleton 2011, 2015) changed the balances of infl uence and power not only between the executive (mayors) and the council but also between elected politicians and professional administrators (Hambleton and Sweeting 2014). In several countries, there were also tendencies towards privatization and outsourcing of a part of municipal services, actions that seem to weaken the traditional role of municipal bureaucracies and even that of elected assemblies. At the same time, political leadership was strengthened – including the role of leading bureaucrats of the local government administration, i.e. chief executive offi cers (CEOs), who act as interlocutors and negotiators on the part of local government (Kuhlmann and Wollmann 2014).