As we enter The Two Towers, Aragorn is faced with a leadership crisis. After Gandalf fell in the Mines of Moria, Aragorn became the default leader of the fellowship, but becoming a leader can be a challenging process.
After Merry and Pippin are taken prisoner by the Uruk-Hai, Aragorn must make a decision. He must decide whether he is going to continue following Frodo and Sam, who voluntarily chose to leave, or if he will proceed and try to save the other two hobbits from imminent torture. This burden hit him immediately after the death of Boromir.
“Now the Company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf’s trust in me. What shall I do now?”
Many people will crumble in these types of situations. Even though the extent to which he actually failed is certainly debatable, he believed that he failed in his mission. The easy thing to do would have been to give up. The entire purpose of the fellowship was to help escort Frodo all the way to the end of his quest if possible, and that mission became impossible.
Gimli pointed out the inevitable dilemma that is going to face any leader.
“’But after that we must guess the riddles, if we are to choose our course rightly,’ answered Aragorn. ‘Maybe there is no right choice,’ said Gimli.”
Leaders become leaders by taking on these scenarios. Perhaps there are actually no-win situations. It would be rather easy to create a compelling case for him to follow Frodo and Sam or for him to try to rescue Merry and Pippin. Either way, someone is potentially going to get hurt, and Aragorn had to be able to live with the consequences of making a decision.
It is rather interesting that leadership is a bit of a dilemma for him because as one of the so-called Rangers, he was involved in many operations and expeditions during his time. He had certainly had to command troops and make decisions in the past, but the level of this decision seems to be a fairly life-and-death. Granted, neither one was guaranteed death, but from his perspective, two hobbits wandering into Mordor alone or two hobbits in captivity headed to Isengard were both probably as good as dead. Consequently, this was a decision with more direct consequences than many of the others he had been faced with.
Ultimately, he made the decision to attempt the rescue of Merry and Pippin.
“I would have guided Frodo to Mordor and gone with him to the end; but if I seek him now in the wilderness, I must abandon the captives to torment and death. My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer.”
Frodo make his own decision to go off on his own, and as a leader, Aragorn understood that he had to respect that choice. That is an important point of leadership that is often times overlooked but this whole episode illustrates. Aragorn had a decision to make, and he was faced with a potential no-win situation. After all, from his perspective, he felt like he was going to fail someone no matter which decision he made.
What he realized however was that this was not his decision to make. Frodo decided to venture on his own, and as a leader, he had to respect that decision. That is often times true leadership.
In this case, Aragorn understood that rather than crush himself over what seemed to be an impossible decision, he had to remember what he could control and act on that.
 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), 414, Kindle Edition.
 Ibid., 416.
 Ibid., 419