Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to establish a transparent, integrated approach to leadership competency development and succession management to respond to drivers associated with an ageing workforce, leadership drain and the enticement of people into leadership roles. Design/methodology/approach – A consultant was engaged to facilitate a review of the UOW Library’s leadership situation. Key to this process and subsequent activities was the use of the Lominger Leadership competencies; measurable characteristics related to success in the workplace to establish the desired leadership profile. Career interviews, professional coaching and targeted assignments were integral to the development of needed competencies. Findings – The paper finds that feedback from peers, managers and staff was a significant component of the evaluation strategy. Formal assessment took place through the use of the Lominger’s VOICESw 360-degree feedback instrument, an institutional employee climate survey and recertification against the Investors in People standard. Results showed improved self-confidence in leaders, a greater preparedness to address underperformance, and that career and developmental plans were more considered and constructive in their design. Significant improvement in leadership performance was noted in a later employee climate survey. Practical implications – A commitment by the executive or senior leadership team is critical to this type of developmental program. Considerable energy and time is required from all parties involved, e.g. scheduling time for workshops, coaching sessions, subsequent actions and review; challenging in an environment of ever-increasing priorities. Challenging also is the management of perceptions and expectations of staff. There was some disaffection from staff who were not included in the first round of coaching. Subsequently, opportunities to support both external and internal coaching are being investigated. Originality/value – A commitment to new methods to support and evaluate leadership development initiatives resulted in changed perceptions of leadership aspiration, aptitude and ability. The identification of required competencies provided improved goal clarity, insight on how to become skilled in a given competency, and a reference point for evaluation. Importantly the performance of leaders has improved. There is qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate both a commitment to leadership development and the application of desired behaviours associated with the competencies. The capacity to grow and promote from within has also improved; evidence that the succession management initiative is being achieved.