Case Study: Leading Through Complex Change

Facing a significant institutional merger, this leading Australian university recognised the need to ensure all employees were provided with the space, strategies, tools and skills to lead and navigate through times of uncertainty.


Whilst the initial consultation phase between two university councils had been completed successfully, the nature of the legal due diligence and government approvals meant that  information pertaining the merger had to be kept to a minimum. Feelings of uncertainty, confusion and concern about what this type of change would mean on a personal and professional level was top of mind for all employees.



With a strong relationship and rapport already established on campus, Curve Group were asked to design and facilitate a set of workshops, ‘Leading Others Through Change’ and ‘Leading Self Through Change’, to prepare the Senior Leadership Team, operational leaders, academic and professional staff for change and transition.

The key learning outcomes of the workshops were to:

  • Ensure a clear understanding of how change is typically experienced through the use of tools such as The Change Curve, and The Bridges Transition Model.
  • Help staff understand the reasons behind their emotional reaction to change and how to ‘lead their personal change’
  • Support and equip staff with coping and management strategies to navigate themselves and lead others through times of change. These included the Resistance Pyramid, The Circle of Concern Circle of Influence
  • Prepare a personal action plan to lead through the specific context of the change
  • Identify ways of communicating when information is limited using the PIER model for leaders

The program was designed to ensure a mix of self reflection, partnered coaching, well-founded theory, peer sharing and discussion as well as skills-practice scenarios focused on building resilience and maintaining productivity during times of complex change.



Staff provided feedback that they were grateful for the opportunity and safe environment to reflect, acknowledge and share their own personal challenges associated with the change and learn from one another.

Participation and engagement levels of staff were strong, with all senior leaders and professional staff attending one of the multiple sessions scheduled over a number of weeks, and 70% of academic staff attending one of the specifically tailored academic sessions.

Perhaps one of the greatest outcomes was the insight and reflection of staff to shift their mindset from focusing on concerns out of their control and blaming others, to investing their time and energy on the things they can influence. No matter what the situation, everyone has a personal choice about how they respond and navigate what change means for them – a decision which can be very empowering during times of uncertainty.

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