Lleshi was one of the top commanders in Albania's fight against the Italians and Germans during World War II and is still considered by some to be a hero in Albania for his actions during the war. When a communist anti-fascist government was set up in Albania in 1944, Lleshi became interior minister and served in that position from 1944 to 1946.
On August 1, 1953, Lleshi became chairman of the Presidum of the People's Assembly of Albania. He was also sometimes referred to as the Speaker of Parliament, President or Head of State of Albania. He was nominally one of the three most powerful people in Albania's communist regime, along with general secretary Enver Hoxha and prime minister Mehmet Shehu. During Lleshi's time in power, Albania became known as one of the most independent communist nations, as it feuded with the Soviet Union, became an ally of China and then feuded with China in the 1970s.
Lleshi retired from his position as chairman of the Presidium on November 22, 1982, after nearly 30 years in office, when Hoxha reshuffled the government. Hoxha died 3 years later, and during the early 1990s, the communist regime fell, but Lleshi continued to live in Albania. In 1998, he passed away from natural causes.