Was Ben supposed to be leader?
What if Ben was never supposed to be leader?
Locke met Richard in 1954 and told him that he was appointed leader by Jacob. Richard was intrigued by this and when Locke vanished Richard went to visite Locke as a baby to see if he was telling the truth. Theoretically he was, but we all know that if Locke hadn’t planted this seed in Richards mind, he would never have ended up being the new leader.
Because of these time jumps I think it’s possible that Locke will encounter Richard again. Perhaps it will happen when Locke in the real world is only 7 years old, which prompts Richard to go visit Locke again and test him. But, sticking with the main theory here.
What if, when Locke encounters Richard again he tells him all about Ben. Again, Richard has no idea who Ben is, but when a young boy called Ben and his father join the DI years later, Richard starts to believe that what Locke said is true, and that Ben is supposed to be the new leader of The Others.
If Locke hadn’t gone back in time and told Richard about Ben, would Richard really have made Ben their leader?
Perhaps neither Ben or Locke were destined to be leader?