Most people like a strong leader. It makes them feel safe.
They don’t even have to be sure that he is strong. He just has to give the impression that he’s strong. Or that he intends to be strong at some important future moment, when “push comes to shove” or “the going gets tough.” That’s enough to make them feel safe.
They will settle for a promise of strength, a facsimile, a charade, because they reckon that although they see through it they are smarter than most people and most people will be fooled. All that’s needed, therefore, is a credible threat. The threat is better than the strength, because what good is strength if no one knows about it? You don’t want a leader who looks weak, even if he’s not. You want him to look strong, even if he’s not.
Then you feel safe.