This is the purposive identification of talent able to fill key positions, normally at a higher level than current, should or when the current post holder leaves for whatever reason.
Top leadership positions should be filled by people who show clear and inspirational leadership, are able to engage stakeholders influentially, bring positive change, deliver against strategic objectives and deliver their Vision. These leaders need to exude confidence without arrogance, be inclusive and show stability. They have to be able to win hearts and minds.
Leaving a top leadership role vacant for any period of time will introduce uncertainty and cast doubts on the corporate ability to continue delivering. Filling the vacant role of a top leader should be done as quickly as possible, ideally within the succession planning context and process.
Succession Planning therefore is not just filling a role left vacant. It includes specific steps to develop talent pools. These are pools of people brought into current roles, being developed for that role and a next higher role which is more challenging. It includes those steps required to ensure such talent remains motivated and on board, during the time their next upwards progression is not possible.
Any plans for executive development, perhaps as a succession planning enabler, have by necessity of design, be secretive and not for general consumption.