This chapter introduces the book. In the first part, we discuss different meanings of “political leadership”, arguing that political leadership should be understood as three interrelated functions: Identifying problems, give direction and mobilizing support. After discussing important theoretical trends in political leadership research, the chapter sums up relevant former Norwegian research in the field. In the latter part, the chapter introduces four paradoxes that will structure the book. The four paradoxes are related to “conflict”, “administration”, “openness” and “democracy”. The latter part also explains the empirical strategy, and why we have chosen to compare Norwegian and Danish local governments. In a brief and subsequent chapter, we point to some interesting similarities and differences between Norway and Denmark.