Elbow frontman Guy Garvey was one of the few musicians to oppose the American invasion of Iraq before it started. However after speaking openly about his own feelings, he felt other musicians were concerned about appearing anti-American as it might affect them when they came to tour the US. Garvey told Q magazine April 2009, that this was the background to this song. He explained: "I decided that outrage hadn't worked. The idea behind 'Leaders' was: I'm not terrified of you, I'm not angered by you, I'm going to ridicule you. I'm not sure if it worked. It felt very guttural and spontaneous at the time. The five of us write every song together but it all needed careful discussion. It was an odd one."