What is leading? How do you lead with the bum? With the feet? With the head? And what is directing?
Directing is telling someone to do something. "Go over there", "come over here", "climb through the window", "sit before you say this line", "try shouting that line", "do it as if you were a cat", "how about singing it..." etc etc. It can be subtle or it can be psychological or it can be physical. It may be controlling, it may be micro nuanced, it may be vague. Direction comes from outside of the play. From another world. In rehearsal usually.
Leading on the other hand is something that people do in life. They are suggestions made by someone in the same world. In the story. In the play. In life. "Let's go into the garden". "Let's go over there'. "You seem like a cat". "Let's do it as if we are a crocodile". "Let's sing it". The crucial thing about leading is that it is part of the narrative. And it may not be followed.. A leader is made by their followers.
In a three man puppet any part of the body may "lead". The head leads by thinking, looking, hearing, smelling. The body leads by emotion. The body can also lead with the hands - reaching, pointing, pulling away. The feet lead by moving - twitching, stepping, jumping, stepping foot to foot.
This distinction is important in puppetry because the puppeteer is outside the story, and the puppet is in the story, which means that the puppeteer has an option of directing or leading. Leading, in the story, develops the plot through character and creates a beguilingly alive puppet. Directing is useful to communicate plot "ideas" between the puppeteers, but potentially undermines the character.