This research focuses on the evolution of the leader’s role in the emergence of an international network of SMEs. A longitudinal study was conducted among SMEs wishing to develop an international network in Tunisia. A number of SME managers among with some collaborators and partners involved in the project were interviewed. The study reveals the evolution of a leader’s entrepreneurial competencies as this network evolves along several stages. Three key stages have been highlighted: identifying an opportunity for an international network driven by a visionary leader whose main characteristic is curiosity; assessing the opportunity, based on a consolidating leader whose main characteristic is leadership; and exploiting the opportunity, requiring a federating leader whose main characteristic is empathy. A process makes it possible to identify the evolution of competencies, highlighting 3 key characteristics: curiosity, leadership and empathy mobilized throughout the emergence of this network.