Leadbetter began his career on the European and Southern African tours, but had little success as a player. Having an interest in the techniques, mechanics and psychology of the sport, he soon moved into instruction and came to wide notice in the 1980s when he rebuilt the swing of Nick Faldo, who then went on to win six major championships.
Leadbetter now runs an international chain of golf academies headquartered at the ChampionsGate Golf Club in Davenport, Florida, U.S. which has 36 holes designed by Greg Norman.
Leadbetter himself concentrates on teaching tour professionals and on instructing other coaches in his methods, who then teach his ideas at his academies. Apart from Faldo his students include Nick Price, Charles Howell III, Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko and Byeong Hun An. Pros who formerly worked with Leadbetter included: Nick Faldo (1984–1998), Greg Norman (1997), and Ernie Els (1990–2008). He was ranked second to Butch Harmon on the 2005-2006 edition of Golf Digest’s list of the “50 Greatest Teachers” in the United States.