Have you ever wondered why in a band there are as many as three guitarists but only one drummer? This is because each guitarist plays an individual role in a band. These roles include the lead guitar player, the bass guitar player and the rhythm guitar player.
In order for you to learn to play lead guitar, you have to first understand the roles of each guitarist. A rhythm guitar player is the person who plays the basic tune of the song; he is like the foundation that builds the song. A bass guitar player is the accompaniment to the rhythm. He adds the flavor and has more of background effect because bass guitars have a lower tone. The bass strengthen the rhythm guitar and the drums. Lead guitar on the other hand is a whole different thing. Lead guitarists are those that play the melody of the song, the guitar riffs and the solos. They basically add the "spice" to the rhythm of every song. Lead guitarists are also usually the front man of every band because they tend to capture the attention of the audience. As the rhythm guitarist strums the strings and plays the chords, the lead guitarist adds magic to this by plucking the strings and playing the melody.
With that said, to learn to play lead guitar, you therefore have to master reading tabs and notes. This is because lead guitar is usually played with notes rather than chords. Chords are mostly played by the rhythm guitarist. Learning to read tabs and mastering notes enables you to do wonderful guitar riffs and solos. You also need to learn scales and arpeggios. After that, you may then move on to chord progressions. You basically have to be really good to learn to play Lead guitar. So before moving up the learning chart, be sure to master the basics first as this will be your main foundation. Also practice proper finger positioning for notes and chords as this will be your building block. Later on you can learn many variations of chords -- and even scales and arpeggios.