The intrinsic connection between empowerment and participation is apparent in the Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion. In order for citizens to reach a higher degree of autonomy and control over health-related factors (empowerment) they need to have an active role in the decision-making processes affecting their lives and the environment in which they live (participation). This implies that many decisions are made affecting the health of citizens over which they have no influence. The question is: Who has the power to make such decisions and how can this power be shared more equitably? This question can be raised not only at the highest political level, but also locally in the context of the collaboration between various stake-holders. The local level plays a key role in deciding which health promotion measures are developed and funded, thus contributing in an important way to strengthening communities. In this article the method "Circles of Decision-Making" is presented as a tool for assisting those working at the local level in determining to what degree the active participation of the various stake-holders has been achieved and in what ways the participation of those "on the outside" of decision-making processes can be strengthened. This method is based on the concept of Participatory Quality Development (PQD) created by the authors and their community partners. PQD uses methods from community-based research to address issues of quality in community-level health promotion and prevention.