The future of executive leadership depends upon increasingly greater focus on developing the leadership pipeline through effective succession planning and subsequent leadership development. A growing emphasis on enhancing skills and capabilities will help current and future leaders optimize potential.

Oftentimes, the missing link to bring this vision to fruition is the personal investment of leaders on both sides of the succession equation. Many executives claim to be too busy to carve out time for individual development planning and coaching of their high-potentials. Concurrently, these high- potentials are often uncertain what types of questions to ask or how to create a tangible ownership plan for continued success. The result is a black box phenomenon—top talent with high aspirations and capabilities, but no true knowledge of what the formula is to attain such success.

As future corporate leaders, prevent a lack of experience or clarity from determining your course.

Request mentoring/coaching. Ask your boss, or another executive you admire, to spend time with you on your individual development. Most executives will gladly do so if you initiate the request and ensure realistic expectations.

Create a development plan. Compose a specific, workable plan that will help you attain both short-term and long-term goals. Share these goals with your boss/coach and ask for feedback and modifications. The more these goals dovetail with corporate objectives, the greater the positive organizational impact.

Follow the plan. Create measurable goals and stick to them. A well-structured plan that is never put into action is a tragedy. Show the organization, and executive leadership, that you are serious about your development by planning your own success, not relying on others to do so for you.

Make your achievements known. Gaining visibility for the right reasons increases your positive reputation in all areas of the organization. It is not self-aggrandizing if done tastefully.

Find your place in the succession plan. Respectfully and appropriately engage your boss in a discussion of your fit with respect to future leadership of the organization. Ask questions about the succession planning. Inquire how you can together ensure you are growing in accordance with the organization’s goals, as well as your own.

To summarize, take a proactive role in your own development by seeking out resources and assistance to help you stay on track. Both you and the organization will be better off for it.