Embryogenesis depends on a tightly regulated balance between mitosis, differentiation, and morphogenesis. Understanding how the embryo uses a relatively small number of proteins to transition between growth and morphogenesis is a central question of developmental biology, but the mechanisms controlling mitosis and differentiation are considered to be fundamentally distinct. Here we show the mitotic kinase Polo, which regulates all steps of mitosis in Drosophila, also directs cellular morphogenesis after cell cycle exit. In mitotic cells, the Aurora kinases activate Polo to control a cytoskeletal regulatory module that directs cytokinesis. We show that in the post-mitotic mesoderm, the control of Polo activity transitions from the Aurora kinases to the uncharacterized kinase Back Seat Driver (Bsd), where Bsd and Polo cooperate to regulate muscle morphogenesis. Polo and its effectors therefore direct mitosis and cellular morphogenesis, but the transition from growth to morphogenesis is determined by the spatiotemporal expression of upstream activating kinases.