So much harm is done because of jealousy and insecurity.
I've had to cut ties with a few senior people because of this phenomenon-- they will happily mentor and support their mentee until the mentee 1) starts advancing at a pace that was greater than theirs, or even worse 2) starts surpassing them in success right now. When that happens, they turn subtly vicious, sabotaging, gaslighting, cutting the mentee down to "where they belong" while still maintaining a facade of being the noble mentor.
I've seen this in sales too. You'd think that if you work in the industry for years or especially decades, the people you worked with and got along well with would be your #1 supporters when you go off and find success. I've found that this is sometimes true, sometimes far from the truth-- and in my case, I've encountered mostly the latter in the game industry especially. They're fine if you're a coworker on their level. Once you start getting more success than them, things change.
"Crab mentality" is one great explanation of this behavior: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_mentality Basically when crabs are in a bucket one crab will try to escape the bucket. Instead of letting the crab escape, the other crabs will not just be unhelpful but actively pull that crab down. Often used to describe groups that are fine if you're all in a shitty situation, but once anyone tries to leave or do better they get villainized.
I've seen manifest in two major ways:
When you're both equals. You're all in a shitty situation and you support each other while in it, and then someone finds a way out and that person gets no support or worse gets attacked. This can happen in bad workplaces, perhaps more disappointingly it can also happen for underprivileged/unsupported groups of people. It's not always the case, just something to watch out for and recognize when it happens.
When one person is in a higher position of power. They're in that higher position of power yet they're unhappy in some way, like most of us are (no one's perfect). They help justify this to themselves by saying they had to struggle or tried their best. Seeing you succeed at a greater rate is painful to them because it forces them to grieve the fact that maybe they could've achieved more in their life with better circumstances but they didn't get to. Anger/denial is easier than sadness for some people.
The thing is, all of this goes away when you're "the exception."
"The exception" is the genius. The unusual one. Just born different. A star. Not like the rest of us.
When someone encounters The Exception shining above them, they get happy instead of sad because they got to meet A Star. It doesn't relate to their life-- they weren't born A Star or A Genius, most people aren't, come on man. They can instead put this person in a different category and continue on with their lives.
On a personal level, for many years I wasn't considered The Exception to most people. Many times people put me down because heck, if they weren't able to get success as an older experienced man, certainly a young woman shouldn't. But now with recent dramatic career wins the tune is changing and these same people have started to say oh, she's not just a regular girl, she's Special.
I think "the exception" is a damaging concept that encourages continuing to put others down and encourages us not to face our own insecurities.
Lift everyone up.