Randall: Look, do you want to be leader of this gang?
Strutter: No, we agreed: No leader!
Randall: Right. So shut up and do as I say.
(Strutter nods vigorously)
- Time Bandits, 1981
For some rules, such as surprise, Leadership is important. It can be useful in contests of Leadership skills or Tactics skills to see who gets their group in the right lines and lanes for a fight.
In my experience, PC groups like to have a paper leader that they don't actually follow. This lets them claim the bonuses for Leadership skills and for specific leader-bonus circumstances. But they otherwise act as an anarchic collective.
That's a bit different from the players (and their PCs) who take the lead in pushing towards certain goals or to set the tone for combat. They're not often the same characters that statistically would run the group if it was run purely on their paper stats.
My solution is to declare that most PC groups don't have a leader, and penalize them appropriately. No one really listens to the characters, only the player in question if that player happens to be persuasive. This doesn't come up too often, but it does come up.
If you have issues with leaders in your games, how do you handle it?