In Canada, the nursing shortage is all encompassing, and nurse leaders are needed from the bedside to the boardroom. Healthcare organizations and the nursing profession lag behind the corporate sector in development of strategic leadership succession planning. Contemporary nurse leaders will require all the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies their predecessors can provide. Effective leadership development and succession planning will provide a climate that is conducive to the transfer of that knowledge. Providing leadership development opportunities within the context of succession planning will assist nurses to develop and nurture the leader within. A definitive strategic succession plan may mean the difference between success and failure for nurses and their organizations.