Coaches Highlight: Meet Mary Durfee

At Droste Group, we recognize that it is vitally important for you to select a coach you connect with to get the most out of your engagement. That is why we have strategically assembled a diverse team of leadership coaches. As part of a regular blog series that we call “Coaches Highlight,” we will introduce the members of our coaching team and give you some insight to help you connect with the coach who is just right for you.

Meet Mary Durfee

Dr. Mary Durfee practiced internal medicine for a number of years before getting her master’s degree in Health and Services Management and Public Policy to transition into the people-management side of the medical field, where her true passions lie.

As Chief Medical Officer at IHA, Mary played a key role in leading the development and implementation of an internal leadership development program as IHA expanded from about 60 doctors to 600. Mary recognized that with major company growth, IHA also had to grow new leaders. The leadership program evolved from training existing leaders only to training future leaders as well. Over time, Mary noticed that she was spending about 50 percent of her leadership time in a coaching role, developing a highly functioning leadership team to successfully navigate the ever-evolving company.

After retirement it was a natural transition for Mary to get certified as a leadership coach, and she began working with the Droste to bring her perspective and expertise to leaders across many different industries and levels of leadership.

Although she has a deep medical background, Mary’s expertise in leadership applies to all industries. Honing leadership skills, building high-performing teams, and creating cultures of feedback are all common principles that cross industries seamlessly.

By nature, Mary values kindness. She believes it’s an important part of building trust and ranks kindness as a high-priority item when leading and coaching. If you lead with kindness, she says, you can defuse even a tense situation and allow for others to warmly accept your observations and truth without assuming you carry a second agenda. As a coach she believes you are supposed to listen, observe, and be direct but deliver the directness in a kind way, without letting people shy away from the truth.

The most important thing Mary does during the beginning of a coaching relationship is to develop trust by being a good listener. It’s critical to spend time understanding where someone is, where they want to be, and what is getting in the way, along with how they arrived at this point and how they hope to grow.

Mary also observes physical behaviors during coaching sessions to help gain a holistic view of the individual. Her mother used to say, “When you want to know what someone thinks or what their priorities are, turn off the audio,” and Mary lives and coaches by that.

Over the course of her career, Mary has been recognized as an outstanding executive who took the time to coach and mentor others as she ran successful organizations. Mary has been called a courageous and compassionate leader who embraces honest communication. Feedback is critical to growth, and she works tirelessly to provide this in a clear, thoughtful, and sensitive manner to help individuals reach their true potential as a leader.


If you’re interested in setting up a coaching experience with Mary or any of our other amazing coaches, email us at info@drostegroup.com. Leadership coaching is one-on-one development, focused on behavior change to improve overall performance and effectiveness. Leadership coaching is just one of the many services we provide. To learn more, visit www.drostegroup.com.

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