Some commentators take the view that the growth of multi-national companies operating on a global basis is now so well developed that cities are best viewed as helpless victims in a global flow of events. Distant, unelected decision makers now determine city futures, not urban residents. This paper rejects this view and offers a fresh way of thinking about our urban future. It presents a new conceptual framework for understanding place-based civic leadership and, by drawing on evidence from innovative cities across the world, suggests that place-based leadership can shape the city according to progressive values – for example, advancing social justice, promoting care for the environment and bolstering community empowerment. In a forthcoming book, Leading the Inclusive City (to be published by Policy Press, University of Bristol), the author presents seventeen inspiring Innovation Stories, drawn from cities in all continents, to underpin the argument that place-based civic leadership, when combined with radical social innovation, can help to create inclusive, sustainable cities. The paper draws on the evidence presented in the book to suggest that there are likely to be five overlapping realms of civic leadership in any given locality – political, managerial/professional, community, business and trade union. Effective place-based leadership draws insight and energy from all five realms. The paper explains the methodology used to assemble the Innovation Stories about bold civic leadership, and suggests that The New Civic Leadership framework may be able to assist cities improve their efforts to develop international, city-to-city learning.