- exploiting one's position within a hierarchy to secure unwarranted advantages and benefits (e.g. massive corporate bonuses);
- abusing a position of power ;
- using rank as a shield to get away with insulting or humiliating others with impunity;
- using rank to maintain a position of power long after it can be justified;
- exporting the rank achieved in one sphere of activity to claim superior value as a person;
- exploiting rank that is illegitimately acquired or held (as in situations resting on specious distinctions of social rank, such as racism, sexism, or classism).
Of course, rankism can still have challenging side effects, such as when the player's needs dominate those of the characters. While your average high ranked character shouldn't be throwing themselves into harm's way, generally most players will be motivated to do exactly that and therefore those characters with rank get to go out on all the missions, know all of the in-game secrets required to find those missions and otherwise be able to get to do all of the exciting grunt work on top of being in charge of all the wheeling and dealing. This can lead to those at the bottom of the hierarchy to miss out entirely on nearly every aspect of the game which leads to a poorer game for them.
On the other hand, if rankism is played in-game as it would be in real life with those of higher ranked holding executive control and managerial oversight, then rankism can work out quite well, with players of more action-oriented 'grunts' enjoying their side of the game while griping about the arrogance of the wheeler dealers who dominate in the political, social and potentially intellectual sides of the game.
Unfortunately this form of rankism generally isn't very common because players naturally don't want to limit themselves to only one half of the experience. Such players also may not realise (though some do), that their in character rank is allowing them to dominate the game to such an extent, especially if they don't sit back and think about their choice's repercussions.
In games where higher ranked characters also have more experience points (such as due to a vampire's age), those players are doubly encouraged to do everything themselves as they are better positioned to succeed. It may even seem like a foolish, selfish and cruel thing, to send weaker novices in their place against a dangerous enemy. Most games have a canonical reason why they should send the novices (i.e. vampires selfishly protect their own unlives at all costs) but this can be more easily ignored when a player's own enjoyment is at stake.
This isn't to say that most players actively seek to push others out of the game, or even that they are indifferent to such effects, more that sufficient temptation can make self-justifying bastards out of us all, especially if no one has pointed out the risks to us in the first place. Therefore in a PvP LARP it is important to ground such status *in* sticking to your own purview and providing IC and OOC checks against single players being able to do all things all the time while simultaneously preventing other player's access.
The easier we make it for players to know what they should be doing, remember what they should be doing, and rewarding them for doing what they should be doing, the better off the game will be. And by "we", I mean all of us ... players, cast, crew, GMs and organisers included.