As leaders, project and program managers use language as a vital tool in shaping their projects and programs. The ways in which leaders frame issues through their use of language impacts on how these issues are approached and resolved by members of the project team. In this study we explore the narratives of project and program managers in complex emergent problem resolution. We analyze interview data to show the storylines leaders construct regarding which groups are more or less important and the tensions between these groups, whether they frame the impact of outsiders as positive or negative, and how they portray the role of conflicting perspectives in problem resolution. We discuss the practical implications arising from our analysis of leadership narratives in the management of projects, the limitations of the current study and opportunities for future research.