In November 2011, I attended the Office of Migrant Education National Conference in Nashville. During this time, I was also working on one of my final assignments for the Fall semester. As I mentally prepared for the assignment while I was touring Nashville during free time from the conference, I could not help the natural instinct to compare my assignment task to my current location.
Nashville is considered by many as a leading city in the music industry, particularly blue grass and country music. The four frames of leadership can be applied to the city.
Symbolism: Nashville is full of symbols which relate to how it is a leader in the music industry. Everywhere you look it seems like there are music notes. From the airport to the hotel, the music symbolism was seen everywhere. In the hotel and conference center which housed the OME Conference, there were symbols of musical notes and instruments on the carpet, the elevator doors, the hallway sculptures and wall decorations. Every restaurant we visited had symbols showing the roots of this city. The “Honky Tonk District” was full of symbols, from old recording studios still in operation to the music city Walk of Fame. The obvious symbolism of being known as Music City are the music symbols, notes, and pictures. However, almost every restaurant, bar and store that we visited displayed its own unique link to the history of the musical talent that has passed through its doors.
Political: There is a strong sense of the political frame in Nashville. In a school system, there are political ties between the community and administration, the School Board and the Board of Supervisors, or even within sports in schools. In Nashville, the political frame is very strong between the musical artists and the city. Even the taxi drivers recognized this strong political frame. More than one taxi driver referred to how many popular musical artists helped to rebuild the city after the floods of 2010 in Nashville. They donated funds to help with road and bridge repairs needed so tourists would be attracted back to the city. Parts of Nashville are still in shambles from the disaster…as these are the areas which were not “tourism draws” and still awaiting repairs.
Human Resource: Strange as it may be, the entire city had a strong human resource frame with true southern hospitality. It seemed as every shop, restaurant, city bus, taxi cab, hotel and local attraction that we visited had trained the employees to be hospitable and polite to every one who came through the door. We did not enter a place that did not greet us well and even if we did not purchase anything, they wished us a great day when we left. There was always someone willing to help, give directions or answer questions that we had. I don’t believe I have ever visited a city or town where EVERYONE was so polite.
Structural: The design of the city and how people interacted in the city are two examples of the structural frame presence in Nashville. The layout of the city supports the strong musical backgrounds. There were maps posted on the street poles at crossways and the same maps are available throughout the city and in the hotel. The map outlines the downtown area and marks historical and local attractions. The taxi drivers and the hotel staff work together to seamlessly assist visitors/travelers. Only if you were paying close attention could you determine the responsibilities of the bellman and the taxi drivers. Taxi rates are standard throughout the city and are set by the city government. Currently, there is a major structural constraint in the city with the transportation system. There is a struggle between the taxi cab association and the new Grey Line bus service. Apparently, the bus service is overtaking the transportation of tourist around the city. This also crosses over into the political frame.
In conclusion, leadership frames can be applied to almost any situation and often overlap. Nashville is a leader in the music industry. In Nashville, there is a strong presence of each of the four frames of leadership as Bolman and Deal describe. What may seem like normal symbols for a “music city” most likely has a tie to the political frame. Likewise, where the human resource frame seems strong, it may be a means to support the structure set up by the city government.