Rural communities are increasingly called upon to maximize application of their own resources to solve environmental problems. Many communities have been seen to organize themselves and establish lasting institutions for natural resource management. Leadership, alongside social capital, has been identified by governments as well as the research literature to be an important element in community organization. Policies and programmes have been developed to foster leadership. However, there is a tension between leadership and social capital. This tension and potential contradiction become apparent when the concept of power is introduced. Focusing particularly but not exclusively on Australia, the paper looks at the theory and practice of leadership programmes in relation to the findings of empirical studies of community power relations. It specifies the kinds of leadership appropriate to natural resource management in terms of leader-follower relations, arguing that the leader-follower relationship, rather than the individual characteristics of leaders, should command research and policy attention. Some consideration of factors to be taken into account in designing leadership programmes is offered in conclusion.