Leadership, or being a good leader, requires that one be resourceful, a good problem solver, dependable, and that he or she has a positive attitude about life. Beowulf is faced with the challenge of transitioning from being the leader of his warriors to being the King of all his people. The way the author portrays this conversion to the reader is through all of Beowulf’s fighting encounters with the monsters.
At the beginning of the poem “Beowulf” and his Geatish warriors are called to Denmark by Hrothgar to face Grendel. Grendel represents evil among society because he kills a mass of Hrothgar’s people in the mead hall. Beowulf must battle both Grendel and Grendel’s mother to restore order in Herot. In both of these fights Beowulf leads his warriors into battle. He shows great superhuman strength and courage as he battles Grendel and Grendel’s mother alone. He does everything it takes to protect his warriors because he is the great warrior leader of the Geats.
Beowulf is unconcerned with pain or death because he knows the town Herot and his fellow warriors are dependent upon him. After defeating Grendel’s mother, Beowulf has the opportunity to take treasures from her, but instead he only takes Grendel’s head. “The Geat captain saw treasure in abundance/but carried no spoils from those quarters/except for the head” (Beowulf 1612-1614).This shows how Beowulf just has his own glory from the victory in mind rather than the concern of the rest of the people in the town. In his first two battles, Beowulf shows tremendous leadership as a warrior.
At the end of the poem Beowulf becomes the King of the Geats for fifty years and he brings prosperity to his people. Then his town begins to be destructed by a dragon, due to a thief who disrupts his horde of treasure. In order to save his society from total annihilation, Beowulf brawls with the dragon. The battle ends in mutual destruction. Beowulf knew he was old and it wouldn’t be long before he couldn’t lead his people any longer. Therefore his quarrel with the dragon is interpreted as him encountering death for the betterment of his society. “Dearest Wiglaf, under the gray stone/where the dragon is laid out, lost to his treasure;/hurry to feast your eyes on the hoard” (Beowulf 2743-2755). He knew that if he defeated the dragon the Geats would have all the treasures from the dragon’s mound. In his last battle Beowulf shows leadership as a King.
Throughout the poem it is easy for one to see how Beowulf deals with the transition from being the leader of his warriors to the leader of an entire society and having to think about more than just hiself. Sometimes being a leader allows one to have glory, such as, Beowulf did in his first battles against Grendel and Grendel’s mother. However, it can also mean one must make sacrifices for the people he is leading, like Beowulf does in his last fight against the dragon.