1. be the first or most active person in dealing with something, move into a winning position in a competition
take the lead in the race/negotiations
To 'take the lead' means to assume a position of responsibility, to take charge, to go first or move into a position ahead of something or someone else. You might take the lead in a project meaning to manage it, or 'take the lead' in the market meaning to be ahead of the competition. If you ask someone to 'take the lead' you are asking them to take responsibility for something. This is a common phrase in social and professional contexts.