lead by

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lead by

1. To provide guidance or leadership through some means or manner. As a parent, I always try to lead by example. The new CEO of the company has chosen to lead by force, dictating the terms by which his employees are expected to operate.
2. To provide someone with guidance or leadership through some means or manner. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "lead" and "by." I find that leading the students by example yields much better results than simply presenting information to them. You'll get a lot more out of your team if you lead by consent than by demanding what you want them to do.
3. To guide or direct someone, something, or an animal by grasping and pulling them by a particular part. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "lead" and "by." He lead the child by the hand out of the burning building. I was leading the bull out of its pen by its nose ring when suddenly it got spooked and tossed me over the side of the fence with its horns.
4. To directly control, direct, or guide what someone does or how someone acts. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is used between "lead" and "by"; typically followed by "the nose" or "the hand." I can't stand the way your mother leads you around by the nose like that. Aren't you sick of her telling you what to do all the time? I hate having to lead new interns by the hand until they figure out how to do the job.
See also: by, lead
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

lead someone by something

to guide someone by grasping a part and moving. Do you expect me to lead you around by the hand, showing you everything to do in your job? The cop grabbed Max and led him around by the collar.
See also: by, lead
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in classic literature ?
The Phoceans were led by Schedius and Epistrophus, sons of mighty Iphitus the son of Naubolus.
The men of Argos, again, and those who held the walls of Tiryns, with Hermione, and Asine upon the gulf; Troezene, Eionae, and the vineyard lands of Epidaurus; the Achaean youths, moreover, who came from Aegina and Mases; these were led by Diomed of the loud battle-cry, and Sthenelus son of famed Capaneus.
And those that dwelt in Lacedaemon, lying low among the hills, Pharis, Sparta, with Messe the haunt of doves; Bryseae, Augeae, Amyclae, and Helos upon the sea; Laas, moreover, and Oetylus; these were led by Menelaus of the loud battle-cry, brother to Agamemnon, and of them there were sixty ships, drawn up apart from the others.
And those of Dulichium with the sacred Echinean islands, who dwelt beyond the sea off Elis; these were led by Meges, peer of Mars, and the son of valiant Phyleus, dear to Jove, who quarrelled with his father, and went to settle in Dulichium.
These were led by Ulysses, peer of Jove in counsel, and with him there came twelve ships.
All these were led by Idomeneus, and by Meriones, peer of murderous Mars.
And those that held Pherae by the Boebean lake, with Boebe, Glaphyrae, and the populous city of Iolcus, these with their eleven ships were led by Eumelus, son of Admetus, whom Alcestis bore to him, loveliest of the daughters of Pelias.
And those that held Methone and Thaumacia, with Meliboea and rugged Olizon, these were led by the skilful archer Philoctetes, and they had seven ships, each with fifty oarsmen all of them good archers; but Philoctetes was lying in great pain in the Island of Lemnos, where the sons of the Achaeans left him, for he had been bitten by a poisonous water snake.
The men, moreover, of Ormenius, and by the fountain of Hypereia, with those that held Asterius, and the white crests of Titanus, these were led by Eurypylus, the son of Euaemon, and with them there came forty ships.
The Dardanians were led by brave Aeneas, whom Venus bore to Anchises, when she, goddess though she was, had lain with him upon the mountain slopes of Ida.
Ida, men of substance, who drink the limpid waters of the Aesepus, and are of Trojan blood--these were led by Pandarus son of Lycaon, whom Apollo had taught to use the bow.
They that held Adresteia and the land of Apaesus, with Pityeia, and the high mountain of Tereia--these were led by Adrestus and Amphius, whose breastplate was of linen.
They that dwelt about Percote and Practius, with Sestos, Abydos, and Arisbe--these were led by Asius, son of Hyrtacus, a brave commander--Asius, the son of Hyrtacus, whom his powerful dark bay steeds, of the breed that comes from the river Selleis, had brought from Arisbe.
In suits which a man doth not well understand, it is good to refer them to some friend of trust and judgment, that may report, whether he may deal in them with honor: but let him choose well his referendaries, for else he may be led by the nose.