U.S. Army generals are senior members of the military who are responsible for preparing and leading soldiers in war. The U.S. Army and Marines have four different levels of generals, including brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general and general. The Army's five-star general of the army rank has not been used since shortly after World War II. In order to achieve the ranking of a general, military officers must have certain characteristics that show their effectiveness for leading a group of soldiers.


Leadership is the ability to help others achieve a common goal and requires generals to have an inner drive and vision of what needs to be accomplished. While military generals can have different leadership styles, they need to create a structured environment, lead soldiers into battle, enforce rules and regulations, and make difficult decisions.


The military encourages its members to act selflessly and in the best interest of the unit. This is often an important characteristic in earning a promotion into a leadership position. Generals are responsible for promoting the interest of the country before their own and making the necessary sacrifices for the sake of their soldiers.


Generals and members of the military often face dangerous and life-threatening situations. While some may think that being fearless is an important characteristic of becoming a general, courage is the ability to move forward despite any fear that you are experiencing. Fear is a signal in the brain that protects you from immediate danger and heightens instincts and adrenaline. Having courage allows generals to overcome psychological challenges and helps with concentration, thought control and focus.


Ethics is a moral philosophy that addresses concepts such as right and wrong, and good vs. evil. Generals must set an ethical standard to ensure that soldiers don’t cut corners while on duty and take ownership of their actions. Ethical guidelines that are commonly enforced in the military include accountability, responsibility, honor, trust and loyalty.


Through their education and experience, generals can develop self-confidence and be self-assured in their decisions. Generals need to have a belief in themselves that their decisions are accurate and that they can accomplish what they set out to do. Having self-confidence can help generals overcome any challenges and obstacles they may face.