人们发现，在此次演说中，奥巴马总统一反常态，他的语气听起来并不像往常一样冷静，反而显得咄咄逼人。《郝芬顿邮报》（The Huffington Post）简要报道了此次演讲，更是将报道的标题命名为《奥巴马终于成熟了》（Obama Finally Grows a Pair）。
麻省理工学院斯隆商学院（MIT's Sloan School of Management）讲师维吉尼亚•海利-汤尼表示，最糟糕的情况是，演讲者改变了语气，却没有得到相应的回应。言者怒火中烧，听者无动于衷，没有比这更令人沮丧的事了。
西北大学凯洛格管理学院（Northwestern's Kellogg management school）管理学教授罗伯特•利文斯顿表示：“要想获得支配地位，必然会面临隐性威胁。如果你是‘恶霸’，但人们认为你根本无力摆平他们，那你就别想从他们那里得到保护费。”
当然，奥巴马总统之所以改变演说的语气，是因为目前美国的政治局势处于一种复杂的均势之中。选举季即将来临，但奥巴马总统却一直受到国会掣肘。他的一举一动都经过精心设计，此次突然变调也不例外。美国共和党众议院全国委员会（National Republican Congressional Committee）前任主席汤姆•戴维斯认为，这次演讲只不过是奥巴马总统的一步棋而已，并且也在外界的意料之中。戴维斯表示，奥巴马会兼顾庄重的、身为总统的自我与对各种问题愤怒不已的政治家这两种身份。“作为旁观者，批评他很容易，但实际上，他也只是在‘照本宣科’。”
After almost three years of President Obama's leadership, the economy is still dismal and Americans are angry. In a speech on unemployment and the national debt delivered from the Rose Garden last week, the president seemed fired up too.
The president's tone was a marked departure from his usual, cool-headed demeanor. He sounded combative, and people noticed. The Huffington Post even recapped the speech in an article entitled "Obama Finally Grows a Pair."
Anger, it turns out, can be a very useful emotion for leaders. But expressing anger during an event such as a public speech is a tricky tactic that, when executed poorly, can cause a backlash.
But the worst-case response to a tone change like this one is to hear crickets, says Virginia Healy-Tangney, a lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than getting no response when you're angry.
Strong language can function as an effective wake-up call. Earlier this year, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop got the world to pay attention to his company again by the way he framed its current crisis. Elop said Nokia (NOK) was like a person standing on a burning platform and would have to jump into icy water to save itself.
Leaders in crisis mode sometimes have to convey anger or aggressiveness to appear relevant, says Healy-Tangney. She remembers when Ronald Logue, then-CEO of State Street, her previous employer, spoke to the company about the massive layoffs he was forced to make because of the financial crisis. He was angry about the situation, and he conveyed it. Despite hearing tough news, employees responded well to the speech, Healy-Tangney says.
In a way, we are hard-wired to respect an angry leader, even if we don't admit it. In a 2001 study published by Stanford organizational behavior professor Larissa Tiedens, participants watched videos of Bill Clinton responding to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. One group viewed a video of a remorseful Clinton and the other saw a clip of the former president responding angrily. Then, researchers measured how the viewers rated Clinton's leadership ability. People who saw video clips of Clinton expressing anger rated him better fit to lead, Tiedens observed.
Of course, after you get people's attention or respect with an outburst, then comes the hard part: backing up what you say. Elop needs to deliver results after shifting strategy at Nokia, and a CEO making massive layoffs like Logue needs to actually turn the company around.
"In order to have dominance, there must be a tacit threat," says Robert Livingston, a professor of management at Northwestern's Kellogg management school. "If you're a bully and people don't think that you can beat them up, they're not going to give you the lunch money."
And staying angry for too long has its risks. For one, people can only stomach so much negativity. Secondly, when an audience listens to an emotional leader speak, they tend to interpret the message as personal, more about the leader's ego than the people they're addressing, says Healy-Tangney. While sharp words can be an effective call for attention, perceived selfishness is a huge turn-off.
Of course, the president's tone has changed in the context of a complicated political balance. We're coming up on election time, and he has been repeatedly stymied by congress. Every move the president makes is extremely calculated, and a tone change is no different. This recent speech was a chess move, says Tom Davis, former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and a pretty predictable one. Obama will oscillate between his stately, presidential self and a politician angered by the issues, Davis says. "It's easy to criticize him, sitting on the sidelines, but this is straight from a playbook."
Now that people are listening, getting angry may look like a good move, but it will only pay off in the long run if he can execute.