The 15 members of the United Nations Security Council took their first straw poll last week to pick the U.N.’s new secretary-general. But they won’t tell the world the results, much less how any of them voted.

That’s one of many ways in which the U.N. needs to improve the way it selects its leader. The process has been basically unchanged for 70 years. With the blessing of its five permanent members, the Security Council presents one candidate to the General Assembly, which approves him (and so far they have all been men).

The U.N. now has to deal with crises that require cooperation among a much wider range of actors – not just states, but also global corporations, philanthropists and networked activists. The U.N.’s future legitimacy and effectiveness depend on giving these new players more of a voice.

The required changes to the U.N.’s rules wouldn’t necessarily trespass on the prerogatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council (the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France). And let’s be realistic: Without the disproportionate influence granted to them by their veto power, the P-5 inevitably would have let the U.N. go the way of the League of Nations.

But nothing prevents the U.N. from releasing straw poll results (more will follow) without identifying how individual countries voted.

Even better would be for the General Assembly to request, and the Security Council to present, a choice of candidates – something that U.N. “elders” have proposed. Of the 12 candidates in the running, including several former prime and foreign ministers, eight have high-level U.N. experience, eight are from Eastern Europe and six are women.

Finding the ideal blend of diplomat, politician, manager and moral champion is not easy. Making the process more open can only help.