Purpose This paper aims to further research on leadership and knowledge management through formal knowledge strategies in knowledge-intensive organizations (KIOs), and analyse knowledge management challenges and approaches within KIOs, especially tacit knowledge. Design/methodology/approach This paper is based on conceptual and literature research. Findings Managing knowledge as an organizational asset involves how knowledge is obtained, stored and organized, and accessed and shared when needed. This is crucial for KIOs. Knowledge that is not captured, understood and transferred, throughout the organization, is useless. This requires the integration of systems and processes with people and leadership. Tacit knowledge generation and transfer is especially important in KIOs. In particular, the success of KIOs depends crucially on management’s ability to give leadership in a way that supports knowledge-intensive teamwork. The global nature of internal and external knowledge networks adds to the leadership challenge. This can be made more complex by cultural differences, intellectual property protection (formal and informal) and talent scarcity. Research limitations/implications Further research is needed to identify the types of KIO and to better understand sound common knowledge management and related leadership principles across all types of KIO and those that are more context-dependent on the type of KIO and/or its business and cultural context. More research is needed on policy making organizations, in-company policy-making research and development and creative industries. Originality/value The paper takes forward research on leading knowledge management in KIOs and introduces 14 challenging new papers in this specific field of research.