Be helpful. Appease powerless people when it doesn't cost you anything to do so. They will respect you for it.
‘A ruler can never protect himself from a hostile people, because there are too many of them,’ says Machiavelli.
The average man does notwant to be free. He simplywants to be safe.
~ H. L. MENCKEN
You don't have to dance like a puppet in the face of public opinion. If you want the freedom to make the big calls, make sure the small things are taken care of. If you have popular support, you ‘stand alone’. That gives you legitimacy to get on with the job of leading, rather than constantly (in the nightmare phrase that saps the will to live of any true Machiavellian) ‘managing expectations’.