Is the Leader a Team Member?

Recently, a member of one of the on-line teams I lead made an interesting comment: "You don't communicate like you're part of the team." There was more to it than that, but let's take a look at that single statement. My communication is often an effort to find common ground, contribute my thoughts, encourage brainstorming and collaboration, and generally to develop synergy among the members of the team. I often remove myself from the core of the conversation to make sure that the ideas can blossom without the unfortunately stifling impact that a titled leader can create.

Her comment surprised me. It still does. I work hard to remain open, to encourage conflict (as outlined in Patrick Lencioni's book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), and generally to develop relationships that allow the team to be as productive as possible.

As a result, though, I got to thinking: Is the leader of a team a member of the team?

What do you think?