β cells are biologically essential for humans and other vertebrates. Because their functionality arises from cell-cell interactions, they are also a model system for collective organization among cells. There are currently two contradictory pictures of this organization: the hub-cell idea pointing at leaders who coordinate the others, and the electrophysiological theory describing all cells as equal. We use new data and computational modeling to reconcile these pictures. We find via a network representation of interacting β cells that leaders emerge naturally (confirming the hub-cell idea), yet all cells can take the hub role following a perturbation (in line with electrophysiology).