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Difference Between Managing Director & General Manager

Managing directors and general mangers are vastly different in their main responsibilities, degree requirements, annual salaries, and projected career outlooks.

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Comparing Managing Directors to General Managers

Managing directors attempt to manage a company's strategic goals by generating operational policy and tracking finances. General managers also deal with budgets and spending, but they tend to be more involved in the daily activities of the company.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Managing Directors Bachelor's Degree $149,222 8% (Top Executives)
General Managers Bachelor's Degree $50,412 9% (General and Operations Managers)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Managing Directors vs. General Managers

Both managing directors and general managers design business strategy based on industry trends and customer or client needs. Importantly, both also develop and uphold business policies set by a board of directors. General managers are typically in charge of policies regarding safety, production, or sales. Managing directors, however, are interested in policies that influence cost and efficiency.

Managing Directors

Managing directors work with chief executive officers (CEOs) to develop new operations and processes, especially those regarding accounting and spending. In fact, some sources equate the responsibilities of both these professionals. One key example includes these directors working with outside auditors to assess financial reports for the whole company. Based on the results, they may redesign the company infrastructure to make workflow more efficient and lucrative. This may require managing directors to develop new ways for administrators to review their employees. It may also mean developing new business ventures that will help the company meet its goals, including new programs or partnerships.

Job responsibilities of a managing director include:

  • Meeting with the company's president to update him or her on projects
  • Planning an annual budget that fits the organization's spending and earning goals
  • Ensuring the company's policies meet government regulations
  • Hiring outside consultants for projects

General Managers

General managers develop the culture and environment of the workplace, whether they work in large or small companies. On a daily basis, they manage the operations and respond to issues immediately to keep projects within deadlines. They delegate work across teams to keep workflow moving and measure performance based on things like production and sales. Beyond simple observation, these managers also use data to analyze business activities. Sometimes, this means allocating revenue and human resources, favoring projects with a higher return on investments. They also find market gaps that will allow the company's products and services to compete.

Job responsibilities of a general manager include:

  • Following up with employees to see if projects are finished
  • Developing standards for quality work
  • Reviewing managers and other employees to ensure the best individual is in the position
  • Creating staff schedules

Related Careers

If a career as a managing director interests you, you might want to explore a future as a business operations manager because both oversee the daily procedures of the company. Additionally, if you think a position as a general manager is for you, it may be worth it to look into a career as a training and development manager, as both onboard new employees.

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