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.
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