Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, outlined the economic benefits that he believed would follow if more power was handed to local decision makers.
He made the comments at an event organised by TheCityUK which analysed how financial services firms outside London are boosting economic growth.
Mr Riordan said: “If you’re sitting in London and thinking, ‘Should I put this pound in to Leeds or into York or into North Yorkshire?
“You obviously don’t know what impact it is going to have. Surely you are going to be better off devolving (power) down to those areas, as has been done in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.”
Mr Riordan said he wanted to see the public and private sectors working together and “led by a very clear accountability (that comes) through a mayor”.
He believed this approach would help to resolve the big questions around infrastructure and skills.
He added: “That’s what we want to do. We’re not there yet, but we won’t give up in Leeds. We will continue to press for a devolution deal.”
During a panel debate, which was chaired by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post, Mr Riordan called for more institutions, such as regulators, to be moved out of London.
He added: “Leeds’s employment rate is one of the best in Europe, never mind the UK. We are a jobs machine.
“There are a lot of really good things happening in the North and we need to celebrate it.
“Following this great report from TheCityUK we are really keen to work with the industry to see what we can do to support growth – but devolution will be key.”
The event, which was held at KPMG’s head office in Leeds, also featured a presentation from Anjalika Bardalai, the chief economist from TheCityUK, which is the industry body for the financial services sector.
Other participants in the debate included Chris Hearld, TheCityUK’s city chairman for Leeds, who is also KPMG’s Northern regional chairman, and Sarah Longlands, the director of IPPR North.