Although he now lives and conducts business on the west coast, Michael Leytem has relied time and time again on lessons he learned from his Cascade upbringing and education to help him navigate life’s sometimes bumpy waters.

In fact, the time Leytem spent with a fishing pole in his hand has been vital in forming the C.A.T.C.H. & Release Model of Leadership business model, he now espouses not only as a speaker but on his new business website and in a forthcoming book.

After graduating from CHS in 2005, Leytem majored in psychology at the University in Iowa, where he was also a member of the University of Iowa Bass Fishing Team. Since then he has earned a Masters degree in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, taught psychology at the college level and worked for management consulting firms.

His trademarked leadership model leverages fishing metaphors to help experienced and emerging leaders easily remember some of the most critical components of leadership.

Leytem explained his model, “After seeing hundreds of leaders struggle with the challenges leading in the digital age presents, I wanted to leverage my knowledge of leadership, psychology, and mindfulness to help others develop the required skills needed to be an effective leader today.”

He explained that unlike other leadership models, the C.A.T.C.H. & Release Model includes a strong emphasis on the importance of mental health. “The Release helps leaders find effective tools and techniques to let go of whatever mental baggage they have carried with them for far too long on their leadership journey,” said Leytem.

He also created the C.A.T.C.H. & Release Leadership Index (CARLI), a statistically sound instrument that measures each dimension of the C.A.T.C.H. & Release Model. Upon the anticipated January 2020 launch of the book, readers will be able to take the CARLI to help them better understand their leadership strengths and development areas prior to diving into the book.

Leytem doesn’t underplay the importance of growing up in Cascade and the values inherent in small-town living. “It’s truly a blessing to grow up in Cascade,” he said. “Every step of my career I have been able to tie some experience or lesson I learned in Cascade to help me overcome challenges and provide value to others. From the early days fishing with my dad down at the river, I learned the importance of finding a mental release through nature. During high school, I learned the importance of stage presence and presentation skills being coached by Bob Davidshofer in high school plays.”

Those lessons remain just as important to Leytem today. “I still to this day use role-plays to recreate difficult conversations leaders have to face in the real world. Stretching leaders using this method puts some of those acting skills back to work. Most importantly, I attribute my success to relationships, something the community of Cascade taught me as a youngster. Simple things like looking someone in the eye, showing empathy for others, and pitching in a hand because it is the right thing to do has served me well over the years.”

Those years have included marrying his wife, Alisha (Otting), and taking up residence in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., where they currently reside.

The couple will be back in the area when they host “A Zenful Day” workshop in Dubuque, Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Grand River Center. Michael Leytem said his current path helps satiate his desire to do something very important. “At my core, I have always wanted to help people. It is the very reason that I studied psychology in college. I am fascinated by the human mind and the decisions people (especially leaders) make and why. If you consider the rippling impact a leader has on their team, organization, and community, it is of the utmost importance that they are continuously improving.

“Regarding the fishing analogy, it was a way to penetrate a saturated market with a refreshing new angle. I don’t think the world needs another cookie-cutter leadership book to collect dust on the shelf.”

Leytem assures readers that they don’t need to know anything about fishing in order to gain value from the book and that he thanks all of his friends and family in Cascade who have supported him throughout this journey.

For more information regarding Leytem and his leadership model, visit