Sameh Abadir

Sameh Abadir
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.
Sameh Abadir

Sameh Abadir is a Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD. Abadir's 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 have to 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.


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.


Abadir 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 Co-Director of IMD's signature Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and Negotiating for Value Creation (NVC) open programs.


He 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

Toolkit for strategic leading through a crisis (I by IMD, 2022)

Questions to ask as you prepare to negotiate a deal (I by IMD, 2022)

Negotiation techniques for a global dealmaking frenzy (I by IMD, 2021)

The two roles leaders must play in a crisis (MIT Sloan Management Review, 2020)

The Innovative Business School: Mentoring Today’s Leaders for Tomorrow’s Global Challenges (Routledge, 2020)

From safety, through sustainability to stewardship (FFI Practitioner, 2020)

Bicultural managers leading multicultural teams (International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, 2020)

e-Negotiations: Networking and Cross-Cultural Business Transactions (Routledge, 2012)



INSEAD Best Program Director award (2018)

INSEAD Best Professor award (2018)




Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po)


PhD (Economics)

University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Orchestrating Winning Performance
IMD's signature program, OWP, brings you the latest business trends, thought leadership and insights to revitalize your business, drive innovation and lead you forward. Fully customizable schedule. For executives and teams.
Negotiating for Value Creation
Helps executives master the negotiation frameworks and processes required to manage successful value-driven win-win partnerships.
All IMD programs
Sameh Abadir's Publications
J.M. Huber Corporation: Leadership succession in the face of two economic crises
Case study
The Innovative Business School
Complex deal-making