Earlier this week, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s leadership came under fire after her decision to let go of one of the Internet discussion site’s most beloved employees. Since then, many conversations about leadership have arisen in response to the controversy surrounding Pao’s decision. In the aftermath, one can’t help but consider how leadership has changed and continues to evolve in the 21st century.

Strong leadership is obviously crucial in the world of business, although no two applications are alike because of varying industry standards. KKR co-founder Henry R. Kravis comes to mind as a person who has exhibited excellent leadership throughout his career, including supporting the creation of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Another example of a strong leader is Sheryl Sandberg who, like Pao, works in a high-powered position at the intersection of business and technology.

These two examples embody the image of a seasoned leader – someone who has been at the forefront of their industry for a significant amount of time, who isn’t afraid to innovate, and who has to make hard decisions that risk being critiqued by the public. The digital age is one in which CEOs and other leaders cannot evade public opinion; Pao is a perfect example of this. Technology certainly poses both challenges and opportunities for leaders in the 21st century.

“Scholars, and people generally, look at leadership in a very different way than they did a generation ago. Leadership was seen as something that was straightforward, done ‘by the book,’ and could be easily learned,” explains Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., author at Psychology Today. “Leadership today is a lot more complicated,” he says.

Dr. Riggio, who has previously served as director of the Kravis Leadership Institute and is an expert on the subject, attributes a shift in leadership styles in the 21st century to three main things: a greater focus on the follower, the rise of more empowered followers, and an overall recognition of the complexity of leadership. These things combined and applied to examples in the age of the Internet do make a lot of sense. In the case of Ellen Pao, Reddit users felt empowered enough to criticize her decision, even starting an online petition to have her removed. With more than 190,000 signatories, it’s safe to say that “followers” definitely wield a lot of power in contemporary leadership disputes.

Entrepreneurs are also forced to be strong leaders, and adaptable ones at that. According to Entrepreneur’s Carol Tice, it isn’t enough to get to a high power position or start your own company; 21st century entrepreneurs and business leaders have to be adaptable, self-aware, possess strong people skills and the ability to collaborate, and execute projects perfectly. The latter is perhaps the most challenging today, with social media users and business blogs (like this one) examining all of the choices and moves that CEOs and leaders make.

“In a constantly changing business climate, you can’t model yourself on leadership archetypes from the past and expect to meet the challenges of today’s workplace,” says Tice.

How do you weigh in?