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Difference Between Shareholders and Directors


Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Sumitha

Roles of Shareholders and Directors in a Company

A typical company structure consists of three significant stakeholders with distinct and well-defined roles: shareholders, directors, and employees. During the incorporation of a company, shareholders and directors act as promoters, playing vital roles in its establishment. Shareholders and directors have unique responsibilities and functions within a company, each contributing to its overall success. In this article, we will delve into the specific roles and responsibilities of shareholders and directors, highlighting their differences and examining the key aspects that define their relationship within a company.

Shareholders: The Owners of the Company

Shareholders are individuals or entities holding equity shares in a company, and their ownership percentage determines their share of profits and decision-making power within the company. Their primary responsibility is to invest capital in the company and participate in key decisions, such as appointing directors and the composition of the Board of Directors. Shareholders play a crucial role in the company’s formation by signing essential documents like the Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA).

Decision-making for shareholders occurs through resolutions passed in general meetings. These resolutions can be ordinary, requiring more than 50% of the vote, or special, necessitating more than 75% of the vote. Ordinary resolutions cover most shareholder decisions, while special resolutions are required for significant matters, such as altering MOA & AOA, reducing share capital, or appointing directors beyond the prescribed limit of 15. The annual general meeting (AGM) is a mandatory statutory meeting for shareholders held within six months from the end of the financial year. Key decisions made during the AGM include adopting audited financial statements, declaring dividend amounts, approving the appointment of auditors, and electing directors on rotation.

Shareholders’ decisions are recorded in the meeting minutes, and resolutions requiring the approval of 3/4th majority of shareholders are reported to the Registrar of Companies (ROC) by filing a copy of the resolution in form MGT-14. Besides the AGM, shareholders can convene an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to address specific issues that may arise during the year.

The requirements for shareholders vary based on the type of company. Private Limited Companies must have a minimum of two shareholders, with a maximum limit of 200. Public Limited Companies require a minimum of seven shareholders, with no maximum limit. One Person Companies, on the other hand, can have only one shareholder.

Directors: The Managers and Compliance Enforcers

As distinct from shareholders, directors are responsible for managing the company’s day-to-day affairs and ensuring its compliance with legal, tax, and regulatory frameworks. The shareholders appoint a company’s initial and subsequent directors, who hold office until shareholders are satisfied with their performance. To remove a director, shareholders must pass a resolution with a simple majority at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM). However, a director remains responsible for their duties until their removal.

The primary responsibility of directors is to control, oversee, and manage the company’s internal affairs, including decision-making through resolutions at board meetings. A Board Meeting is a gathering of all company directors, with resolutions passed by a simple majority, giving each director one vote.

Directors come in various types, each with unique roles and responsibilities:

  • Executive Directors: These directors are fully involved in the company’s management and day-to-day operations, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance to avoid fines and penalties.
  • Non-Executive Directors: These directors are not directly involved in daily management but may represent stakeholders or serve the company professionally.
  • Independent/Professional Directors: Independent or professional directors provide expertise and assist the Board of Directors in making key decisions related to their area of specialization.
  • Nominee Directors: Appointed to represent a specific stakeholder, nominee directors protect the interests of the party they represent but do not engage in day-to-day management.
  • Additional Directors: These directors are appointed for unforeseen tasks, extending their term until the next AGM.

Directors and Shareholders as Company Promoters

Shareholders and directors initially serve as promoters of the company. Promoters conceive the company’s idea, determine its business activities, and estimate the required capital. They may also have a financial interest in the company. As per Section 2(69) of the Companies Act of 2013, a promoter is defined as someone with control over the company’s affairs, directly or indirectly, or per whose advice the Board of Directors acts.

Shareholders vs Directors

Understanding the distinction between shareholders and directors is fundamental to running a company. Here’s a summarized table of their differences:

Parameters Shareholders Directors
Induction Allotment of Shares Appointment by Promoters/Shareholders
Eligible Entity Any Individual or Non-individual entity Individuals who are not minors
Roles Ownership of the company Control and management of the company
Responsibilities Capital investment, approval in meetings Legal compliance and day-to-day management
Decision-Making Crucial financial decisions Internal management decisions
Liability Limited to the company’s dues and debts Personal liability for non-compliance
Minimum Number Varies by company type Varies by company type
Maximum Number Varies by company type Varies by company type
Remuneration No compensation, receive dividends May receive remuneration and sitting fees
Removal from Office Can’t be removed without a court order Can be removed by shareholders
Ownership Own a percentage of the company Control the company’s operations and compliance


Shareholders and directors are essential stakeholders in any company, each with a distinct and complementary role. Shareholders provide capital and decision-making power, while directors oversee daily operations and ensure legal compliance. Understanding their roles and differences is vital for fostering a harmonious and prosperous corporate environment. In summary, shareholders own the company, while directors manage and steer its operations towards success.

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