Lynn William Olsen, Ph.D. is a 2010 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Mitch Kusy, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Jon Wergin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Cynthia McCauley, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Kerry Bunker, Ph.D., External Reader


business, turnaround, senior leadership, competitive edge, leader development, Q methodology, Q sort, continuous learning, transformational leadership, change, transformative learning, systems thinking, quantum, executives, organization development

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The researcher developed the concept of an edge leader—that is, one who can mindfully turn around a troubled business to sustain it for the future. In an increasingly turbulent and competitive climate, more edge leaders must be developed to sustain their organizations for the benefit of shareholders, employees, communities, and society. The researcher's review of the classic and contemporary leadership and change literatures suggested that four elements are necessary to develop leaders capable of leading even basic beneficial change. They include: having broad, successful experience; being emotionally and socially aware; having the ability to think differently about priorities and paradoxes when progressing through organizational levels; and having the competencies to fill a role. However, the researcher asserted that those elements, while necessary, are not sufficient to develop edge leaders. Specifically, two additional elements are required to fill the gap between basic change leader development and turnaround leader development: instilling a zest for continuous learning and developing the ability to mindfully apply a balance of transactional and transformational leadership practices. The researcher's review of the classic, contemporary, and empirical leadership literature, along with several preparatory studies, suggested that the edge leadership concept merited further study. The dissertation research further substantiated the concept in three ways within a turnaround case study. The researcher used additional analysis of the literature along with Q methodology, a constructivist approach combining qualitative interview data gathering, researcher interpretation to define the range of participants' perspectives, and quantitative factor analysis to develop conclusions. Based on interview data from a company leader and eight cross-functional senior staff members, the researcher first found that the leader's development profile compared well to the six conceptual elements of edge leadership. Second, the researcher‘s literature-based top-25 turnaround leader action items list matched 23 of those actually taken by the leader within the case. Third, the researcher examined the quantum relationships among the participants and their perceptions of the leader‘s actions, concluding that four factors represented the actions seen by the participants as the most important to the turnaround. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,