ATTACK ON TITAN: Who is the better leader?

Cynthia Batin
8 min readMar 13, 2022

Assessing Attack on Titan’s infamous Scout leaders to guide you in choosing your next leader

Attack on Titan Leaders

Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has produced terrific scout leaders that can either bring freedom to humanity within the walls or put them into doom.

In this article, I rated the following Attack on Titan leaders — Erwin Smith, Hange Zoe, Armin Arlert, Jean Kirschtein, and Floch Forster based on 15 criteria — charisma, decisiveness, ability to motivate colleagues, leadership experience, participatory leadership, curiosity, positivity, openness, empathy, resourcefulness, communication skills, connection with colleagues, confidence, conviction, and their attitude towards seeking the solution. (Note: This is a personal rating, and you are free to think otherwise)

The result of my assessment is provided in the table below. Erwin scored 42, Hange got 30, Armin and Jean got the same rating of 26, and Floch got 19.

Let us examine these characters in detail.

1. Erwin Smith

Erwin Smith is Attack on Titan’s most notable leader.

Erwin Smith is the 13th commander of the Survey Corps, the branch of the military whose main objective is to explore the world outside the walls, to discover new knowledge that can help humanity survive Titan attacks.

In my assessment table, Erwin scored perfect in almost all leadership criteria that I identified. Decisiveness, conviction, charisma, resourcefulness, experience, intelligence, solution-seeker — everything that you are asking for in a Leader, Erwin has it. The only characteristics he scored lower on are participatory leadership, positivity, and empathy.

If you are a fan of Attack on Titan, you know that Erwin is the gambling guy. With the nature of the Survey Corps’ job, they are constantly faced with surprised Titan attacks that need instant decision-making. Erwin’s mind has been trained to read situations as they unfold, trying to figure out the best decision in an unruly situation.

Shinzou wo sasageyo! (English trans: Dedicate your hearts!). We heard these words spoken by several characters so many times both in the anime series and manga. But I’m confident to say, no one can utter those words the same as Erwin. All renditions fall flat when compared to his.

Erwin is also overflowing with conviction (and charisma). In Season 1-Episode 16, he asked the new Survey Corps recruits, “Can you die if you are ordered to?” The recruits were unwilling. But we witnessed in Season 3, how he convinced the recruits to give up their lives to enable Levi to defeat the Beast Titan. In his own words:

In which case, we can stake our heroic deaths on a slim chance of victory. For this to work, to ask these young ones to die, it would take an expert con man and a whole slew of lies. If I do not lead the vanguard, none of them will follow.”

Erwin knows his effect on his subordinates. He successfully convinced everyone to sacrifice their lives for the greater good of humanity, giving meaning to the deaths of their predecessors. In this link is Erwin Smith’s epic final speech.

Throughout the series, we can deduce that Erwin Smith is a utilitarian, prioritizing the lives of many, ready to sacrifice the lives of others. This is evident in the Female Titan arc in Stohess District. He sacrificed the residents of Stohess to gain new findings on Titans, that in return, he believed, would make them a step closer to discovering the truths of the Titan. However, this gamble didn’t age well because though they were able to capture the Female Titan, she crystallized herself, sealing the precious information that the Survey Corps aiming to.

It must be noted that aside from his notable leadership characteristics, I think what sets him apart from the others is not himself but his strong support from a diverse set of experienced subordinates. These include Hange, Mike, Nanaba, and Levi, among others. There’s also Pyxis.

2. Hange Zoe

Hange Zoe is the Attack on Titan’s mad scientist.

Hange Zoe is the 14th commander of the Survey Corps, succeeding Erwin after his death in the Return to Shiganshina arc.

At the start of the series, Hange Zoe was portrayed as an almost lunatic soldier-scientist who has a deep obsession with Titans. She has been doing extremely dangerous experiments against captured Titans, which almost resulted in her death.

Her obsession and analytic mind lead to many discoveries about the Titans. She deducted that Titans are humans, attributing it to the facial similarity of the paralyzed Titan of Ragako Village and Connies’ mother. She also discovered that the material that made up the wall is similar to that of Annie’s crystal. Moreover, she invented the Thunder Spears, their ultimate weapon to defeat the Armored Titan. This resulted from her high score in curiosity, resourcefulness, and solution-seeking persona.

Indeed, Hange’s discoveries played major roles in the progression of the story. To add to it, she’s an excellent and fearless soldier, capable of defeating many Titans despite being just a normal human being.

But is Hange an effective leader? She got 67% on my self-made leadership assessment board. Fair score. She got a better score in my analysis due to her long experience as compared to younger scouts Armin, Jean, and Floch.

In my opinion, the scientist-nature of Hange became the biggest setback in her leadership approach. Unlike Erwin’s spontaneous decision-making skills, Hange’s decision-making style is almost always reliant on empirical data. Hence, gambling is not part of Hange’s vocabulary.

She also lacks the diplomacy which was evident during her meeting with Yelena and Onyakopon. Being the scientist, she was so fascinated with the Marley gun and new knowledge about the outside world shared by Yelena and Onyankopon, partially losing her demeanor in the meeting. It’s a good thing Levi was with her to remind her of the objective of the meeting.

However, it must be noted that Hange’s leadership is also challenged due to the absence of experienced subordinates. She is left with Levi, and the youngster Armin and Jean. Levi is experienced and dependable. While Armin and Jean are leaders in their own right, they don’t have the experience yet of the previous scouts.

3. Armin Arlert

Armin Arlert is the 15th commander of the Survey Corps. Hange appointed him before her departure to her final Titan battle. According to her, Armin possesses the “unyielding desire for understanding,” the prime quality of a Survey Corps commander.

Armin’s leadership quality is rooted in his solution-seeking approach when faced with challenges. He is known as the ‘Strategist,” possessing a high intelligence quotient, and a strong ability to observe patterns and relationships as events progress. Due to his wits, he can manipulate enemies, usually attacking their vulnerabilities resulting in mental torture.

As the strategist, he is always a step ahead of his colleagues. His mindset is always on the long-term and holistic. An example is when he mentioned how their team can use Falco in allying with Reiner and other Titan holders from Marley.

Armin’s leadership didn’t go smoothly due to his lack of self-confidence. His insecurities are rooted in his lack of combat skills and pressure to replace the experienced Erwin Smith.

In my opinion, Armin can be a great leader if he can find subordinates that can complement him and can efficiently implement his ideas. His Alliance teammates are good examples.

However, since his approach is not universal and only caters to logical individuals, the sustainability of his leadership may not be sustainable in the long run. He may have trouble enforcing his ideas, especially on people who want immediate action.

4. Jean Kirschstein

Jean Kirschtein is a Commanding Officer of the Survey Corps. He commands Survey Corps during battle situations, which include the Attack on Liberio; and the Attack on Titans on the Paradis Island during the Rumbling.

In an episode, Marco, Jean’s best friend, told him that he is a natural leader. His being able to relate to the weak, his ability to read crucial situations, and his swift decision-making process are his best qualities. Having said that, he is a tactical leader that does best during head-to-head battles and short-term decision making.

However, Jean’s soft side can result in his hesitancy during a critical situation. For example, he failed to kill child Falco due to his values that a child must never be involved in a war. While this shows his empathic side, it resulted in negative outcomes such as Falco’s capture on Paradis Island, leading to Marley’s early attack on Paradis (as insisted by Reiner Braun).

5. Floch Forster

Floch Forster is a Commanding Officer of the Survey Corps and leader of the Yeagerists. He led the coup d’ etat against the management of General Darius Zackly, head of the military branches.

Floch is an extremist resulting in his lack of empathy, and failure to consider participatory leadership.

However he can be a great leader if he will learn to be empathetic to people who oppose his view and will stop spitting the words, “we need a devil”. Floch is a realist and has clear objectives in the mind and those are good qualities in my opinion. He can also put his subordinates into action, as evident in their operation to stop the sailing of the Azumabito boat.


Erwin Smith, obviously, is the best candidate if we are going to talk about who is the next Head of the State. Charisma, decisiveness, ability to motivate colleagues, leadership experience, participatory leadership, curiosity, positivity, openness, empathy, resourcefulness, communication skills, connection with colleagues, confidence, conviction, and attitude towards seeking a solution — our Erwin Smith excels in them.

However, the others have earned their cookie to be placed in other positions. Hange can lead the Department of Health; Armin can serve as the Secretary of the Department of National Defense or the Department of Foreign Affairs; Jean is best suited to lead Local Government Units; and Floch… I don’t think an extremist would be a great leader, but he would be valuable in the senatorial and Congressional Units, giving reasonable opinions and serving as the voice of the unheard.



Cynthia Batin

I wander gleefully like a petal in a windy day. Food lover. Food waste hater. Got 19 beautiful cats. I write to remember.