Marketing Thought Leadership

Leading with Heart: Christy Honeycutt On The Power of Authentic Women’s Leadership

Written by Guest Author


This is a republication of Christy’s Interview With Pirie Jones Grossman

You’re going to ruffle feathers! Find your voice and realize that you matter, your perspective matters, and regardless of your title in the company, standing firm on your own two feet matters for those who went before us and for those who will come behind us.

In today’s dynamic world, the concept of leadership is continuously evolving. While traditional leadership models have often been male-dominated, there is a growing recognition of the unique strengths and perspectives that women bring to these roles. This series aims to explore how women can become more effective leaders by authentically embracing their femininity and innate strengths, rather than conforming to traditional male leadership styles. In this series, we are talking to successful women leaders, coaches, authors, and experts who can provide insights and personal stories on how embracing their inherent feminine qualities has enhanced their leadership abilities. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Christy Honeycutt.

Christy Honeycutt is an accomplished Talent Operations Executive with over two decades of experience transforming HR and Talent Acquisition processes through centralization and technology.

She specializes in building and delivering innovative strategies to support organizations in scaling via AI and hyper-automation. Christy is a passionate relationship builder and connector who is revolutionizing traditional HR practices to meet the evolving needs of modern workplaces and drive business growth and elevation for those she serves. She takes the “noise” out of the hiring process and frees up stakeholders to hold space for what matters most — their people.

Beyond that, Christy is a Yogi, Meditation Coach, Mom to 2 humans & 2 Frenchies, Proud Native American and Barefoot Water Skier.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about authentic, feminine leadership, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I landed on my career path rather serendipitously. Early in my career, I was a single mom working in marketing for a major financial institution. My career took a turn when a parent from my son’s baseball team noticed my juggling act and suggested I explore recruitment. With little knowledge of the field, I took a leap of faith and quickly excelled, becoming a top earner at Kenexa/IBM’s RPO for United Healthcare. This success was not a fluke but a testament to my dedication and ability to adapt to new challenges.

Over 17 years, I led enterprise clients to success with stellar employee retention. Recognizing a gap between sales promises and client needs, I pursued change, culminating in an EVP role at a major advertising agency.

My journey has led me to AppyHere, a company whose mission resonates deeply with me — connecting people to opportunities. I am particularly passionate about championing underserved talent communities. My experiences with notable organizations like Korn Ferry, IBM, and Spirit Aerosystems have only strengthened this commitment. Each experience prepared me for the challenges ahead, and I’m grateful for this unexpected journey.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In Facebook’s early days, I organized a community hiring event for IBM, aiming to recruit over a hundred employees for an urgent client launch. With no budget or guidance, I stepped into the potential candidates shoes and thought, why not?! It was a huge success, filling all positions without any expenses, and creating a healthy candidate pipeline. I replicated this approach for Eli Lily Pharmaceuticals and Futurestep’s expansion to Korn Ferry, with similarly impressive results. This taught me the value of leaning in — whether failing fast or soaring far, every path leads to growth opportunities.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are a recruitment automation firm dedicated to making hiring accessible for hourly workers. Many companies lack separate hiring procedures for exempt and nonexempt roles, resulting in hourly workers facing white-collar practices like resume requirements and lengthy applications — often inaccessible via mobile.

Over 90% of frontline workers use mobile phones as their primary device, lacking resumes and applying to multiple jobs simultaneously. Yet, nearly half never receive a response, and those who do often secure other jobs by then. This outdated approach is costly and ineffective. COVID underscored the importance of frontline workers, and AppyHere is committed to enhancing their job-seeking experience while serving employers and communities. Our solutions are designed by HR professionals for HR professionals. With Gen Z now accounting for 58% of the workforce, we are also focused on the next generation of emerging leaders as an app-based platform.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The first character trait that has contributed to my success would be grit. My father would tell you I developed this skill early on. As a kid, I would approach him with bold requests, always armed with a game plan. Once I had my sights set on something, I would persist until I got the ‘yes’. This came into play even more so as a single mother. In this role, I have never had the option to fail. If I didn’t figure it out, no one was coming to save us.

The second is transparency. I have always made it a point to treat my team as colleagues and partners, never employees. And from that, I naturally gained buy in and support. It showed me how important it is to be clear on what the overarching goal is and why each individual’s contribution matters so that you can come together with a common purpose.

The last trait that has been key to my success is authenticity. For a long time I observed the fake work personas and lip service paid to meaningful change, and quickly realized that it doesn’t work. So I just showed up as me. By being true to yourself, you free others around you to do the same. It builds trust and makes it more likely for your team to get behind the work.

Leadership often entails making difficult decisions or hard choices between two apparently good paths. Can you share a story with us about a hard decision or choice you had to make as a leader? I’m curious to understand how these challenges have shaped your leadership.

The most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make as a leader was to leave an organization and a team I had poured into for another opportunity. I’m a very loyal individual so leaving a role came with a ton of forethought. Making the decision to leave reinforced what I always tell my team and former colleagues:

“If you worked with me or for me — you always have access to me.”

I’ve made good on that promise, as I continue to mentor and coach former team members and offer a safe place when needing to think through a challenge or develop a strategy.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Can you share a personal experience where embracing your unique leadership style, which might not align with traditional expectations, led to a significant positive impact in your organization or team?

Being an empathetic leader is incredibly important to me and I’ve employed this “technique” regardless of what others might think about my leadership style. Corporate needs a more humanistic approach in order to create an environment of inclusivity where employees feel valued, seen and heard. A large majority of companies haven’t caught on yet, but ultimately — that’s how you get buy-in to your business initiatives and overarching leadership goals.

In your journey as a leader, how have you balanced demonstrating resilience, often seen as a masculine trait, with showing vulnerability, which is equally powerful, but typically feminine? Can you give an example where this balance created a meaningful difference?

The key word here is balance and knowing that it takes all of these traits to show up as a leader who can actually effect change. I have been in situations where leadership teams asked for solutions but they weren’t willing to face the truth — usually that they needed to change something they didn’t want to.

Sometimes, I’ve been singled out for speaking up and I’ve had to work really hard in some moments to not to take it personally. By being mindful and not reactive, situations that could have become contentious were more easily worked through and we were able to understand where the other person was coming from and work towards a common solution.

As a woman in leadership, how have you navigated and challenged gender stereotypes, especially in situations where traditional male-dominated approaches are the norm? What strategies have you employed to remain authentic to your style?

I am always willing to say the uncomfortable thing that needs to be said. There are old lingering notions that used to tell us there is one way to lead (think good ole boys club if you will). This antiquated leadership style has earned many prominent women leaders a reputation of being “difficult” or to be seen as “not a team player.”

I have often been the only female leader in male dominated leadership organizations and I used to find myself doing all of the extra office “housework” that is noted in LeanIn & McKinseys 2021 Women in the Workplace study.

But I found and now actively utilize my voice. I am a truth-teller. That’s how I stay in integrity with myself.

How do you utilize emotional intelligence and active listening to create an inclusive environment in your team or organization? Could you share a specific instance where these qualities particularly enhanced team dynamics or performance?

To be seen and heard is a fundamental human right. Emotional intelligence leverages the act of active listening. Just because I hear what you’re saying and may be able to repeat it back verbatim, doesn’t mean I heard you.

Active listening is not just listening but it’s also holding space to truly hear what someone is saying. When you operate within active listening your ‘EI’ (emotional intelligence) will kick in to help you pick up the intricate portions of the conversation that need exploring.

We are all communicating but oftentimes we don’t speak the same language. The trick is to translate the communication into actionable insights. You’ll be amazed at the knowledge and insight you uncover to help empower your team’s ability to do great work.

What role has mentorship played in developing your authentic leadership style, and how do you communicate authentically to inspire and empower both your mentors and mentees?

I use a concept that I like to call, The Grandpa Langley Method. My grandpa used to tell me, “You should always be in the middle so that way you’re always reaching down to pull someone up and always positioned to be elevated by someone above you.”

Being in the middle allows you to pour into others, and I believe we always receive what we put out into the world. So in turn, you’ll also be poured into by mentors and supporters. This methodology has kept me centered in the heart of servant leadership. My former teams all know that my door is always open. If you have worked for or with me, you will always have access to me.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and research, can you please share “5 Ways Leading Authentically As A Woman Will Affect Your Leadership”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

1 . You’ll become more magnetic and approachable. Oftentimes colleagues and employees are more open to sharing their thoughts and concerns without fear of retaliation. This allows you to actually solve problems! A trusted advisor in leadership is a gold mine in uncovering opportunities to better the overall organization and the humans it serves.

2 . Trust and respect go through the roof. By embracing your feminine energy and employing active listening, you create safe spaces that ensure everyone around you feels seen and heard.

3. You will have long lasting relationships, not just colleagues.

4 . By being unapologetically authentic in every sense of the word from your dress, to the way you speak — you give others permission to do the same.

5 . You’re going to ruffle feathers! Find your voice and realize that you matter, your perspective matters, and regardless of your title in the company, standing firm on your own two feet matters for those who went before us and for those who will come behind us.

Are there potential pitfalls or challenges associated with being an empathetic leader? How can these be addressed?

One of the pitfalls that comes along with being an empathetic leader is that some might see you as being “too emotional” or not effective. This is an antiquated notion that no longer serves our workplaces. Empathetic leadership requires a lot of self awareness and reflection, allowing space for more discernment in interactions with internal and external stakeholders and employees.

It allows you to take a deeper look into your team’s motivators, and drivers and ultimately an honest understanding of how to most effectively get work done while creating win-win scenarios for everyone involved. By doing the right thing and ensuring that employees feel seen and heard, you’re rewarded with buy-in and impact to your organization’s bottom line.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see more corporate mindfulness! Think about how the world would change if business and our workplaces were a force for good. We would be well served to act from a place of self-reflection and empathy. Together, we have the power to improve one another’s lives and the organizations we serve. And it all starts with self-awareness.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About The Interviewer: Pirie is a TedX speaker, author and a Life Empowerment Coach. She is a co-host of Own your Throne podcast, inspiring women in the 2nd chapter of their lives. With over 20 years in front of the camera, Pirie Grossman understands the power of storytelling. After success in commercials and acting. She spent 10 years reporting for E! Entertainment Television, Entertainment Tonight, also hosted ABC’s “Every Woman”. Her work off-camera capitalizes on her strength, producing, bringing people together for unique experiences. She produced a Children’s Day of Compassion during the Dalai Lama’s visit here in 2005. 10,000 children attended, sharing ideas about compassion with His Holiness. From 2006–2009, Pirie Co-chaired the Special Olympics World Winter Games, in Idaho, welcoming 3,000 athletes from over 150 countries. She founded Destiny Productions to create Wellness Festivals and is an Advisory Board member of the Sun Valley Wellness Board.In February 2017, Pirie produced, “Love is Louder”, a Brain Health Summit, bringing in Kevin Hines, noted suicide survivor to Sun Valley who spoke to school kids about suicide. Sun Valley is in the top 5% highest suicide rate per capita in the Northwest, prompting a community initiative with St. Luke’s and other stake holders, to begin healing. She lives in Sun Valley with her two children, serves on the Board of Community School. She has her Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and is an Executive Life Empowerment Coach, where she helps people meet their dreams and goals! The difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal is a dream with a date on it!

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