Empirical research conducted in four small Russian towns over the period 2011-2015 and 2018-2020, discovered different patterns of power and leadership despite the centralization policy pursued by the federal center. Not all the heads of towns were the most influential figures/leaders in the urban communities, although they have the most significant formal resources of power. Major differences between the heads of the towns were due to the personal factor, support from a team of followers, and relationships with regional authorities. Despite the completion of the “power vertical” down to the municipal level, the patterns of power and leadership of the heads of small towns are dynamic and vary significantly. The most important changes are often caused by change of the heads of towns. Although leaders are unable to completely reverse negative tendencies in the social and economic spheres of local communities, they can mitigate their consequences. Therefore, when difficulties arise, a demand for leadership is formed.