Sameh Abadir

Professor of Leadership and Negotiation

Sameh Abadir is Professor of Leadership and Negotiation. His fields of expertise are negotiation, conflict management, crisis management, and leadership. Before his academic career he served in the Egyptian Special Forces and was an executive at a large multinational, and his military and corporate experience brings a unique perspective to his teaching.

Abadir says everything is subject to negotiation in the modern business world, so negotiation skills are vital – but managers often fall into some common traps. These include being overoptimistic, overconfident or arrogant, and going into negotiations believing that you have to reach a deal. People who assume they must close a deal set themselves up for a poor deal, he argues. Another mistake is to think that negotiation is a zero-sum game in which one side wins and the other loses, which misses the point that the process is about increasing the size of the pie and can therefore have a win-win outcome. Some negotiators also make the error of believing that the other party is out to get them, whereas both sides are quite reasonably looking to create and capture value.

In crisis management situations, leaders need a team with a range of skills, including not just people who are innately smart but also those who have made the behavioral choice to be emotionally smart by being kind and humble. In crisis negotiations, he says, you need a team that’s able to combine being confident, humble, smart, and kind, all at the same time.

You have to go into negotiations being confident, humble, open minded, prudent, and with the understanding that the other person is also smart and in business to create, and ultimately to capture, some value, and that this is fair.

Abadir believes the role of a leader has changed fundamentally, and that those who fail to grasp this are likely to be under the erroneous illusion that they are in control. Vertical hierarchical organizational structures have given way to complex systems in which people are working in teams in different locations around the globe and communicating in a language that is not their mother tongue, so the old way of giving orders on the shop floor has gone. Leaders therefore have to accept that they cannot control everything and find a new way of managing.

He advises companies on negotiations and runs negotiation workshops in English, French and Arabic. He has recently directed custom programs for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Jerónimo Martins, ArcelorMittal, and Merck, and is Director of IMD’s Crisis Management (CM) open program.

Abadir is also Chairman of his family business, which is based in Egypt with operations across the Middle East and Africa.

Prior to joining IMD in 2018, he was an Adjunct Professor at INSEAD for 15 years. He was previously an executive at Sodexo, one of the world’s largest multinational corporations, and served in the Egyptian Special Forces between 1985 and 1988.

Selected publications
Article
Toolkit for strategic leading through a crisis: Here are the five skills you need
Turbulent times have changed the rules for what it means to be a good leader. Based on extensive research and interviews with senior executives, our specialists suggest the five essential skills ne...
Published 17 March 2022
Article
Negotiation techniques for a global dealmaking frenzy
Apply these strategic methods to maximize value for all parties.
Published 9 September 2021
Article
The two roles leaders must play in a crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has already proved to be a litmus test of leadership as organizations around the world fight for their survival under unprecedented circumstances. In such dire straits, man...
Published 22 September 2020
Book
The innovative business school: Mentoring today’s leaders for tomorrow’s global challenges
The Innovative Business School formulates a blueprint for the innovative business school of the next decade, with proposed areas of innovation which will train executives to transform the coming te...
Published 2 November 2020
Article
From safety, through sustainability to stewardship: The triple-S journey of Jebsen and Jessen family enterprise
In the world of COVID-19's crisis many companies repair their financials temporarily forgetting about their north star: purposeful leadership. They become torn between economic goals and stewardshi...
Published 5 August 2020
Article
Bicultural managers leading multicultural teams : A conceptual case study
Biculturals are recognised as an important segment of managers. However, organisational leaders have a gap in knowledge about this group's distinctive experiences. A conceptual case study design wa...
Published 26 June 2020
Book
e-Negotiations: Networking and cross-cultural business transactions
Practical negotiating skills, including those needed for cross-cultural negotiations have long been taught in classrooms, along with some of the theory that underpins them. Most of this has been ba...
Published 1 January 2012
Academic publications
Book
The innovative business school: Mentoring today’s leaders for tomorrow’s global challenges
The Innovative Business School formulates a blueprint for the innovative business school of the next decade, with proposed areas of innovation which will train executives to transform the coming te...
Published 2 November 2020
Article
Bicultural managers leading multicultural teams : A conceptual case study
Biculturals are recognised as an important segment of managers. However, organisational leaders have a gap in knowledge about this group's distinctive experiences. A conceptual case study design wa...
Published 26 June 2020
Insight for Executives
As M&A failure soars, here’s how to walk away from a deal unscathed  
Article
As M&A failure soars, here’s how to walk away from a deal unscathed  
The global dealmaking boom is going into hard reverse as big transactions are shelved, underscoring the need for executives to strengthen negotiation tactics and exit strategies in order to preserv...
Published 18 August 2022
Article
Toolkit for strategic leading through a crisis: Here are the five skills you need
Turbulent times have changed the rules for what it means to be a good leader. Based on extensive research and interviews with senior executives, our specialists suggest the five essential skills ne...
Published 17 March 2022
Article
Negotiation techniques for a global dealmaking frenzy
Apply these strategic methods to maximize value for all parties.
Published 9 September 2021
Article
Globalization has rallied during the pandemic – here’s what that means for leaders
Covid-19 does not, as many detractors believe, sound the death knell for globalization. In fact, the pandemic is its saving grace — and there are big implications coming down the pipeline for leade...
Published 29 March 2021
Article
The two roles leaders must play in a crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has already proved to be a litmus test of leadership as organizations around the world fight for their survival under unprecedented circumstances. In such dire straits, man...
Published 22 September 2020
Article
From safety, through sustainability to stewardship: The triple-S journey of Jebsen and Jessen family enterprise
In the world of COVID-19's crisis many companies repair their financials temporarily forgetting about their north star: purposeful leadership. They become torn between economic goals and stewardshi...
Published 5 August 2020
Complex deal-making
Video
Complex deal-making
Go with a smile on your face and a gun in your pocket, said IMD Professor of Leadership and Negotiation Sameh Abadir, in this insightful webinar.
Published 10 July 2020
Taking control in a crisis starts with looking within
Video
Taking control in a crisis starts with looking within
You can regain a sense of control in crisis and even innovate, if you practice acceptance and self-awareness.
Published 20 April 2020
Mentoring Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s Global Challenges