You wonderful musers are making me dizzy. Really, I'm dizzy. I follow your discussions with such passion, and I want to reply but, but...
Oh well, I too have an opinion on leadership, and ruling and following, and I wish I could add something about Aragorn or Denethor or Boromir, but the one I keep coming back to is Frodo.
Is Frodo a leader? Yes and No. Of course he's loved and anyone who loved him would follow him to the end. I love him and I would. But he would not want that. Frodo always seemed to me as a loner, someone far away from the world, his vision so different from the other hobbits. How could he be a leader? He has a strong charisma, certainly, and we are attracted to him. Because something shines in him, a light, like a star, we want to follow him. There's a truth in him, whatever form it takes for each of us, that sounds right.
But is this enough to make him a leader in the world he lives in? Well, maybe not a leader of Men (or hobbits), but a leader of hearts, certainly. Frodo inspires, and he certainly guides me. He is showing me the way to myself so I can be truer, more courageous, compassionate and understanding. I learn through him to choose paths incomprehensible to others. Maybe Frodo is less a leader, in fact, than he is a Teacher. And a good teacher shows by example. It amazes me to see how determined he is, and how it is only Love that guides him. In every circumstances, it is Love, it is his heart.
Frodo echoes who we are profoundly. Everyone is Frodo's equal. But what he has that others are still looking for is the courage to act upon what he feels right, and for that, he speaks true and his voice echoes the will in me to be as true. Yes, I would follow him. Not because what he tells is right, he may be mistaken after all in his decisions, but because he speaks with his heart, and that is enough for me to trust someone and follow them.
But unlike leaders, Frodo needs no one to follow him. He teaches by his example and goes his way, and it is up to us to choose him as a leader if we want. Would he know about that that it probably would not change anything for him, he would only acknowledge in his kindness the speaking of the heart, and a look in his eyes would tell you that you are welcome to follow him. That is what happened in the boat with Sam. He gave in to Sam's heart. That is how he loves Sam. He lets Sam love him, he lets him speak his heart. But Frodo Loves. He loves Sam, he loves Aragorn, he loves Boromir, he loves Gandalf. He is so generous, his heart is so open that he sees good in everyone. His love doesn't need to focus on anyone. It shines through for everyone.
To become a Teacher, Frodo had to learn. Frodo learned with time to listen to his own heart and he learned the hard way. He gave his trust to Bilbo, who caused him pain when he left. He trusted Gandalf, who did not trust HIM as fully as he could have, and so did not guide him properly, he trusted Aragorn, who failed to protect him. But did Frodo stop loving them? Did he get bitter? No. He had a keen eye, and could see into people's hearts. Despite all the misguiding, the mistakes, the pain, the evil all around him, he never stopped believing in good everywhere he went.
A leader in spite of himself, maybe that is what Frodo is, a leader of the hearts for who is willing to follow the path he has set for himself.