In Taiwan's post-democratization, public managers reduced their leadership and initiative-taking, thereby creating concerns about public sector leadership. This article defines the concept of informal ‘executive initiative understandings' (EIUs) between political appointees and career executives, and examines how such understandings affect public managers' efforts and agency leadership. Based on an in-person survey of Taiwan central government executives, findings show that: (1) about half of senior career executives agree that they have an informal understanding with appointees' about their initiative-taking; and (2) having an EIU significantly and strongly increases executives' efforts and perceptions of agency innovation. This study also finds (3) that EIUs are associated with executives' public service motivation, perceptions of appointees' competence, and executives and appointees having similar political views. This article concludes with suggestions for increasing executive initiative-taking in public agencies.