A: Don’t delegate succession planning – it’s your job to look after the future of the business.
You are probably right about line managers, but they have good reason to keep quiet about their superstars – some, as you say, could fear being superseded. Many more don’t want to lose a strong member of their team.
Appoint yourself chief talent spotter and find plenty of excuses to meet your up-and-coming young people. Run small discussion groups that include the likely candidates and make a point of chatting to them as you go around the business. To get to know them better, invite individuals to join you for a day when you are working away from the office. It will help their development and provide the perfect chance to assess their potential and personality.
Future executives need all round skills, so move them around the business, giving them experience in a number of roles. But make sure they have real jobs. Day-to-day management is the best type of business school you can find.
Don’t allow ambitious young people to get stuck in a rut, otherwise they might leave to work for someone else. Provide plenty of challenges so they have a chance to make a name for themselves.