For the life of me I cannot understand the apparent refusal of many in the press and in the government to use the word "Islamic" or one of its synonyms when describing terrorists, whenever it is apparent that that is exactly what they are. They seem utterly predisposed not to mention the religion of the terrorists. This would not be important to the story unless it is important to the terrorists. I do not think a Baptist bank robber or a Buddhist pickpocket should be described as such unless they did what they did precisely BECAUSE of their religion. Then it is important. The motive of terrorists is crucial to understanding what is happening and what their actions mean. It is indispensable to formulating a successful response.
Is their steadfast refusal to face reality and use the word "Islamic" a fear of being attacked themselves? Perhaps it's some kind of inexplicable sense of simpatico. Or could it be that there is some perverse reluctance to give any satisfaction to political opponents who want the names named?
I will not pretend to know the inner motives of the press or the pols, nor is that really the purpose of this article. That being said, whatever the cause, it is dangerous when leadership refuses to face up to it, whatever "it" is. Whether a snarl in the mail room or a failure of communication between executives or a vision gap between the administration and the board, any issue causing problems must be faced. Furthermore a name must be put on that face. This may not, in fact probably will not be so often a person's name as it is the "cause." This is the problem with the terrorism issue. If all the realities concerning the perpetrators, including their religion and motive, are not considered honestly, response may be hampered. In fact, the wrong thing might easily be done. Limited or unrealistic comprehension of the issue may dictate a response that might be counterproductive or even put people in harm's way.
To allow the problem to merely wallow around in a muddy sense of wrongness will frustrate your very best employees. They reckon if they know what the real problem is, then you must, and if you won't just say it, then you must have hidden agendas. At first they will blame the problem, then the people associated with the problem, then at last, they will blame leadership.
This blame syndrome can metastasize into out-and-out paranoia. If leadership won't pin the tail on the right donkey then others will fear being blamed themselves, and the result can be an entire organization of survivors just trying to keep their heads down. Valuable assets will decline to offer much needed information. It is crucial, therefore that you identify the issue and called it what it is. Furthermore, always use that terminology. This speaks to the issue of clarity. To keep changing the reference point causes communication issues you don't need.
This process must not descend into the kind of vicious office cannibalism that only increases the fear. You don't want people's heads on pikes outside your office door. This is leadership, not Apocalypse Now. On the other hand, facing facts is a fiduciary responsibility of senior leadership. If there is a snarl, get the right folks in the room, name it and fix it. If a specific employee is at the root of the issue and proves "unfixable" or rebellious, then make the necessary change. The rest of your team has to know that you know what the real score is. Otherwise confidence will erode and your motives will be questioned just as the motives of many are being called into question over the terrorism issue.
Again, I'm not able to say why the current administration in Washington is so reluctant to call radical, murderous Islamofacism what it it is. I might be able to speculate but honestly I cannot say for sure. The press is even more confusing to me. Whatever motives might confuse a politician would surely not hamper a fair and balanced reporter, just to coin a phrase.
Not to face up to it, not to name the name of the problem allows both your opponents and your supporters to question your motives and that is too great a risk to run. Your team and your broader constituencies will more readily forgive bad mistakes than bad motives.
1) Identify the real problem. Get your team to agree on the real issue.
2) Name it. Call it by its name. Always refer to it the same way.
3) Fix what can be fixed. (Personnel changes may or may not be the answer.)