In a distributed system, an algorithm used to select a distinguished node or leader to coordinate some activity is know as a leader election algorithm. While traditional approaches to leader election, based upon node ID numbers, are of considerable theoretical interest, we believe these approaches are not very practical since the leader elected will not necessarily deliver good performance. In the paper, we propose and examine socially inspired leader election schemes that attempt to locate the leader at a "good" node (from a performance standpoint) in the system. Each node uses locally available information to vote for the various candidates. These votes are combined using an election scheme to determine the leader. The election schemes we propose and examine are shown to perform almost as well as a traditional optimization-based approach toward leader election and are shown to be robust to node failure.